I was invited to create a unique work for The Tallahassee Natural History Museum. Among other exciting things it is a natural habitat, or zoo, of indigenous rescued wildlife, historical buildings, and an environmental science center. I proposed to be put up in my own cage and created a sign for visitors. Theirs is a busy zoo so rather than my own empty plot I was added to the fox and skunk area. It is about 200 square foot wooded area with opportunities for visitors to see you from all angles. Dexter-the-fox is a curious little nipper and I was warned not to get too comfortable or he might want to investigate my clothing or ankles… with his teeth.
The performance that I imagined would have been me laying about on the forest floor, inspecting flowers and mushrooms and just being another animal for the viewership. Instead I was very actively keeping Dexter in my sight lines, but trying to act uninterested. We danced this way, with him circling me all afternoon. Ultimately this was a better lesson for me in what a “natural” circumstance for a human in the wild might be like. I set up a video recorder borrowed from the library to get a shot of the fox and I in our habitat. Dexter, ever curious, thought that he might like to take the camera into his den and snatched it my the wrist strap and bolted. I chased after him with a panicked “NOOO!” and happily he dropped it! That moment changed our relationship and he kept a bit more distant. The camera was fine.
The skunks mainly kept to themselves, staying in their den and only coming out for food twice.
Tags: Art at a zoo, Fox, Human in a cage, Performance Art, Skunk, Tallahassee, Tallahassee Museum