Can my stuffed animal become feral? Apparently the answer is ‘absolutely’ according to The Urban Beast Project. Your infinitely attentive and loyal plush childhood friend (yes THAT one) can easily be turned ‘feral’, or in other words, made to look incredibly fucking creepy. For an answer as to what exactly the project is, the curator of this macabre side-show offers us a choice: the literal and the manifesto (both, not surprisingly, contain their lurches from logic). The supposed literal answer is that the beasts are the “recycled skins of thrown out stuffed animals taxidermied to create feral relatives.” These are then displayed in community gardens, abandoned lots, trees … all in order to develop an “anthology of their stories … to illustrate Humans’ role as stewards of their environment.” If the language alone doesn’t summon the barren voice of Vincent Price resting on your ear, I assure the visuals will complete the eerie picture. Think of your favourite stuffed animal, lying on your bed. Now imagine its mouth slowly parting, a pair of large, murky-yellow teeth pushing their way out of the soft fabric to form a complete, angry set of teeth. This fusion of taxidermy with stuffed animals was inspired by a photography assignment in which stuffed animals were attached to the front of trucks (a common, often hilarious practice of truckers). Apparently the image of these pets being ‘assaulted by the elements’ was too much for the author to bear – what happens if they fight back, he thought.
Well, apparently they grow personalities. The anonymous author goes into amazing detail, naming the 20 different beasts such things as Bebi, Lady Frampton, The Kaiser or Canadian Chinese Water Deer. Click on any beast I his repertoire and you’ll get everything from their Latin names (eg. Ferus Capitus Pangotus) to their eating habits and even a life history. Gus’ particular page even includes recent events and appearances he has made, as well as links to ‘subjects related to Gus’ life’. There is a ‘projects’ section to the site, detailing the different shows and art exhibitions that the beasts have been a part of over the last few years. Hell, there’s even a store, selling customized beasts, candles, t-shirts and sock monkeys.
Is this satire or just an honest taxidermist trying to deliver his art? At this point, I could care less. I want to see my old stuffed bunny become feral. Live in the urban spaces set apart from man and dog. The net was made for sites like these, because you can never really tell what’s going on. (James King)