We went to a wonderful art museum in the Veluwe National Park in the Netherlands. Among the van Gogh’s, Mondrian’s etc I came across the powerful work of an artist I had never previously heard of: Cai Guo-Qiang. He is, however, world-famous for his constellation art. The work shown at this Museum is an installation showing suspended full size tigers ( synthetic fur!) in agonizing poses & pierced by hundreds of arrows, which cover their contorted bodies and “screaming” faces.
From the written commentary the work can be interpreted at different levels, but my wife and I who spend many months a year in African bush did not only see tigers but also the poaching of rhinos, lions, and other wild animals.
The message conveyed is direct and painful at this level, and we wondered about the role such art could potentially play in the fight against poaching. The poachers themselves would probably never go to the museums. But we wondered whether their clients might be touched by these vivid scenes. We wondered if wealthy companies or international wild life organisations could commission the artist to do a work with rhinos. It may be important that the artist is Chinese and thus able to more easily influence the ideas of his own people.. The rhino horns are often destined for China, and thus placing a rhino work by a Chinese artist in museums in China may help open the hearts & minds of the local population to the problems of rhino poaching. Perhaps the work could change the ideas of some people in his country as well as the rest of the wide world. Furthermore a long-term effect may be created when schools visit these thought-provoking installations.
Because of copyright I cannot show photographs of his tiger and wolf art here, but have a look at his very powerful works:-
I hope some one with more influence than I have will at least try to push this idea further. Photography is now widely used to influence people’s ideas on animal conservation. Maybe other visual arts, music , and poetry should be included in the fight to save our wonderful animals.