Pin the Tail on the Donkey
Pin the tail on the donkey [a satire of contemporary species class-ism]
Pin the tail on the donkey [a satire of contemporary species class-ism]:
Based on a mysterious game in which children are blindfolded under adult supervision and spun around with the aim of pinning the tail on an image of a donkey, Pin the tail on the donkey is an ongoing participatory performance work adaptable to the specifics of each particular performance site.
It was originally conceived as part of a solo exhibition at the non-profit Beland Gallery at the Essex Art Center in Lawrence, MA, in 2010 – as curated by Cathy Mclaurin.
After a prolonged internet search, the origins of this game, which many of us played as kids, remained unclear. Yet, the more I ponder the game, the more I see how fitting of an analogy it is for contemporary humanity. And the more I think about how I felt playing the game as a child – about being blindfolded and disoriented and then laughed at while trying to locate the donkey’ arse from spatial memory – the more unnerved I feel as I draw parallels between the game and social conditioning.
And still we march forward obediently, turning a blind eye at the reality of our impact on the planet; at the injustice of the insurance industry; at the clear economic motives for war-mongering and disregard for millions of innocent lives, written off as collateral damage; at the hundreds of millions who have nothing to eat and the billion who have no access to clean water. And why, well because one day we might actually pin the tail in the right place! Because we are currently comfortable enough in material terms to be fooled into thinking that we will not be affected directly by the growing adversity and injustice in the world?
Pin the tail on the donkey consists of a pastoral painting depicting a tail-less donkey in a field. At the given event, members of the audience are then invited to be blindfolded and to stick painted tails onto the wall, and or painting. The tails on the wall and/or painting then remain as relics for the duration of the show. At the Beland Gallery exhibit, the first prize was a painting I did of my teddy bear, cut out and displayed in a shadow box with 1st place ribbon – a satirical noddy badge/corporate retirement watch.
The original exhibition Pin the tail on the donkey [a satire of contemporary species class-ism] is documented here.
Notes for Beland Gallery exhibit: June – August 2010.
Pin the tail on the donkey [a satire of contemporary species class-ism] comprised two primary works.
Alongside the title piece, the second primary work was a video, comprising both old and new, previously un-compiled footage from Project Apology, an ongoing video project that involves the documentation of an undertaking to apologize in person to members of all of the non-human animal species on the planet that are being adversely affected by human activity. In addition; I included two small scale portraits (paintings) of me apologizing to a chosen individual species.
Project Apology is an ongoing video documentation of an undertaking to apologize, in person and as a self-appointed member of humanity, to non-human species on the planet that are being adversely affected by human activity. Obviously such a mandate includes every last living creature and, as such, presents a very tall order, the unmanageability of such an undertaking becoming a big part of its content as a piece of art. The project’s intent is to use satire as a means to deliver a serious message in an unconventionally and ‘amusingly’ palatable, yet provocative manner – in attempting to come to terms with, morally and spiritually, the human implications of our current scientific reality (evidenced, for example, in the current rate of species extinction documented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN).
As we are now only starting to come to terms on a large scale with our impact on the planet as a species, perhaps it is important to realize that the purpose of our new enlightenment is not to assign blame for atrocities past. Rather it is to create awareness and dialogue around the issues that face us as a continent and a planet, so that we can move forward in a responsible and sustainable manner and hold accountable those who continue to commit crimes against our planet, our humanity and our future, despite the new indisputable insight into the reality of our times. No longer can we allow ourselves to be blindfolded and bribed into feeling comfortable through social censure and the promise of material things, to be led by the carrot in front of the donkey that is the false promise of wealth and prosperity. Let us wake up now, remove our blindfolds and stop playing this crazy game.