Five Heraldic Animals

Eduardo Kac’s bio-art project GFP Bunny (2000) involved a rabbit named Alba who the artist had genetically engineered to glow green in specific lighting conditions.  The project (which, contrary to the artist’s intentions, later led to Alba’s death in the laboratory) has been widely discussed in the literature on contemporary art, both by admirers and by those critical of its ethical irresponsibility.  (And for all concerned, the “glowing” green silhouette of Alba has become one of recent art’s most recognizable animal images.)  In his attempt to maintain the openness of his engagement with the implications of genetic engineering, Kac himself wrote that “anyone who gives any consideration to the project” immediately themselves becomes “a participant” in GFP Bunny.  Intentionally or not, by means of this post-conceptual gesture the artist appropriated (and arguably neutralized) all subsequent criticism of his project by declaring it to be an integral part of that same project.  My Five Heraldic Animals (for Eduardo Kac) is perhaps unusual in being consciously designed to sit within Kac’s project as a result of his declaration.  It has no text (beyond its title), so the terms of its engagement with GFP Bunny remain deliberately unspecified.  It comprises five photographs of the splayed bodies of dead rabbits whose visceral corporeality and specificity stand in implicit contrast to the cool green anonymity of Alba’s ubiquitous logo-like silhouette, from which all vitality has been effectively drained.  It first appeared as a set of artist pages in Angelaki in 2013, and further instantiations of this work are anticipated.