m.o.i has always had a fondness for quirky folk who live at the edges of society. This may be due, in part, to fortunate circumstances that allow us to live somewhere in the middle realm, but one has to admit that often the self-trained artist is more interesting than the one more finely trained.
We say this in defense of Bob, whose performance piece Cats in Trees had a brief run as part of an ongoing street theatre project that Bob maintains. The premise of Cats in Trees is quite simple. First Bob, having created a Device for Placing Cats in Trees, must befriend feral cats that roam the neighborhood (no easy task in itself). Once Bob earns the trust of the cat to where he can pick them up and hold them without fear of cat-scratch fever or blindness, he gently places the cat in the Device for Placing Cats in Trees, lifts the device into the upper branches of a nearby tree, and gently shakes the basket until the cat removes itself from the basket and into the tree. Bob finds the phrase, "Ima a shaking it boss" if repeated long enough will usually drive the cat into the tree although I've also seen Bob resort to barking, growling, and reading the poems of Mary Oliver--all of which seemed to work.
Now, I'm certain that some of my animial rights loving friends might find this practice to verge on animal endangerment or even a violation of cat's rights, but hear this first about Bob before you render final judgement.
Bob's day job is to field test shopping carts by pushing them around on city streets until they surrender to the rigors of urban life. Poorly designed shopping carts can fail and endanger shoppers, their children, and are costly to replace. Bob suggests that one day on the street with him and the cart has undergone the equivalent of one year in a parking lot. As with Cats-in-Trees, the field testing of shopping carts is a public service the Bob provides with no expectation of financial reward.
Avian lovers might also object to Cats-in-Trees but to them Bob has a ready response.
"These aren't domestic cats I'm placing in trees. These are feral cats. A tree to a wild cat is a natural place. Now I can see that you might be opposed to cats eating birds but that's a natural thing for a cat. And besides, cats don't catch birds while in trees, it's too dangerous for the cat. Watch them hunt. They mostly catch birds on the ground or in low-lying shrubs. Only cats without claws are afraid of trees. My project just helps the cats realize the heights of their potential."
So there you have it. From Bob. Cats in Trees. Not the best art you've seen this week, not the worst. But maybe, just maybe, the most different. Purr on it.