"Dead or Alive
," a new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts
, may not be inspired by your second-favorite Bon Jovi
song of all time, but it's just as mysterious, awesome and possibly dedicated to the 1980s as one would hope.
The exhibit culls the creations of artists who work with deceased beings, and offers everything from fast-food chicken bones to silkworm cocoons to flying rat
feathers. Artists from all over the world, including Damien Hirst and Nick Cave
, the Prince of Darkness himself, have appropriated junk that you'd normally find washed up at Coney Island and created sculptures and fancy, freaky installations.
Keep reading to hear more about the show and the masterminds behind it.
According to the museum's website, one artist "will create a large cascade of [thousands] of pigeon feathers emanating from one of MAD's signature glass bands that cut across the gallery ceilings." Thousands of pigeon feathers? Glass cutting across ceilings? Sounds terrifying, although it's not without its goofy charm -- contributor Christy Rupp
is bringing extinct birds to life thanks to the magic of Colonel Sanders
"I had made work in the '80s about issues concerning pesticides and the loss of the working landscape, in favor of huge monoculture," she tells Asylum. "When I saw the Dodo skeleton at the Museum of Natural History, I had a light bulb moment about the values we ascribe to different species -- why is a lost species
more significant than a chicken which is engineered to grow so fast, and thrown away, or a species that is actually here now, sharing our habitat?"
Rupp's work took four years to complete, and in that time, she had to make several trips to Chinatown
and its reeking back alleys to collect bones (see "before" photo, at left). "I did buy some of the bones for the big birds from a butcher in Chinatown, where they are sold for making soup -- those were the greasiest, because they are raw," she says. "There are a few turkey
bones which I collected from friends during the holidays, and also I ran an ad in the County Shopper, asking for readers to give me their turkey carcasses." Oh, the good ol' County Shopper -- good for catching the eye of those who have turkey corpses lying around the house.
Fellow exhibitor Jennifer Angus
created her work out of thousands of dead bodies -- fortunately, they are only insect bodies
. "I don't hate insects but most people do," Angus explained to Asylum. "Culturally, insects are a sign of dirtiness and disease
. In my work a tension is created by the beauty one observes in the pattern and the apprehension we feel toward insects." She uses that apprehension, she says, to explore themes of home and comfort, all revolving around how we have pests like dust mites by the billion in our homes, but are unconscious of the unseen worlds they inhabit.
So the next time you squash a cockroach running across your kitchen floor, just remember: you killed art.