Imagine you’re at an old taxidermy museum and you go out back and find one of their broken ducks in the trash. You see it and you say “hey, that would make a great lamp!” People might think you’re weird. But Sebastian Errazuriz doesn’t really care. He found such a thing and now it makes light where it once made sound.
Before you start freaking out, like I did when I first saw a bulb coming out of the cold, dead chicken’s neck, consider what Christian Viveros-Faune wrote of the multicultural New York-based artist in The Confessions of Sebastián Errazuriz, Or On Bastard Occupations and Other Dark Tales of Art and Design.
“Intense, argumentative and perfectionist in the extreme, Errazuriz’s creative stance constitutes an aesthetic and artistic militancy that promotes controversy (as opposed to conformism) as the sine qua non of the artist’s credo.”
So already we know that he hasn’t stuck a bulb and a wire in these discarded animals, who apparently died of natural causes and were thus not killed for this provocative art project, without giving it a lot of thought. He means for us to start frothing at the mouth.
It looks wrong, doesn’t it? I feel disrespectful even looking at it – to so objectify what was once a living, quacking being. And yet, think about it. Isn’t this what we do on a daily basis?
Every day we prioritize electricity and comfort and fashion, even, appearances, over rhinos, elephants, polar bears, migrating birds, bees, orangutans, and so many other creatures we’re the cause of the sixth mass extinction.
And then there is the recycling element, because that’s what nature does. Nature recycles everything it possibly can, which – by the way – is why plastic bottles and other non biodegradable waste pose such a devastating affront to our very existence. The earth can’t reconstitute them.
Artists can. Designers can. We all can. And it’s kind of pathetic that ours is the trash generation, but at least we’re going down with a sense of irony. I’d rather indulge people like Errazuriz, who is taking a particularly creative approach to living in a world that has become almost unrecognizable, than the folks who profit from its destruction.
And I have to say it, this is impeccable design. Just a bulb for a head, and the birds mounted on flexiglass. The animal lives again.
“I was actually afraid of the public’s reaction when I first presented the Duck Lamp,” Errazuriz says on his website.
“Taxidermy wasn’t a trend yet and I didn’t want to be considered a freak, but felt compelled to make it. Somehow it made sense to me and to my surprise when I presented it in a gallery, it seemed to make some weird, unconscious, fucked up sense to other people too. It apparently felt familiar, beautiful, terrible, and funny at the same time.”
That about sums it up.