taxidermy toronto

Morgan Mavis & Patti Robinson

“To facilitate the idea that we should not feel any discomfort about our animal consumption, we are distanced from the animals we will consume, thus upholding the idea that we have no connections with them” (Lerner and Kalof 1999).

Field to Feast is an installation that explores the traditional roles and rituals of men: hunter, butcher, taxidermist and chef. This installation recontextualizes the histories of these gendered practices. By having two women hunt, skin, taxidermy and butcher an animal it repositions these actions, changing the context from violent dominion over nature to an act of communion with nature. It also examines the importance of local agriculture, sustainability and traditional skills. We are looking at where our food comes from and how most people are detached from their food, buying animal parts from the grocery store with no conception or connection to the process.

The entire process was documented: Mavis and Robinson set out to find a rabbit from a local farm in Havlock Ontario, skin the animal, create a taxidermic mount and butcher the meat for a five-course feast that was held in the Contemporary Zoological Conservatory. Our intent was to utilize every part of the animal from skin to bones with the guest of honour, the taxidermied rabbit at the table.

Taxidermy frequently takes the form of trophy, the iconic emblem of the hunt. Taxidermy is often negatively seen as a disembodied head attached to a plaque, the epitome of man’s domination over nature. But taxidermy trophies can present another narrative, one of portraiture. The traditional roles of portraiture were to immortalize and elevate the subject through artistic representation, just as the hunting trophy is a portrait of the animal, immortalizing the adventure and the feast. We have immortalized and elevated our meal from main course to honored guest. Field to Feast brings taxidermy to the table and allows the participants to partake in a more mindful way of eating.