I’d like to be a Lion Tamer


I’d like to be a lion tamer,
Sequins and tights and silk top hats.
I know I could be a lion tamer,
I’ve always gotten along with cats.

I’ve had String Theory‘s version of Lion Tamer stuck in my head for the last few days since re-watching Cat Dancers. I have long harboured dreams of being in the circus. When I was a child we went to Florida and there was a man who had a cat show. It was evening and they would jump through rings of fire. I was impressed. I used to dress my cats up in costumes and push them around in a pram, or photograph them jumping out of top hats and tinsel. They didn’t seem to object.

SamanthaSweeting_straycat_1SamanthaSweeting_straycat_2 A stray tom cat has been hanging around the farm recently. A dish of food was left as a trap for him in the portacabin where I work, and at the end of the afternoon in he wandered. He grabbed a mouthful of meat and ran away. I went outside. He approached cautiously, a little more each time I turned. A flash of the Stalking Cat.

As he entered the room, I closed the door,SamanthaSweeting_straycat_3 trapping us together inside. Him wide-eyed and wild, began hurling himself at the windows. Then settled under the table, growling.    SamanthaSweeting_straycat_4SamanthaSweeting_straycat_9

I gave him his bowl of meat and slowly he let me approach him.

And as he finished the food, he had calmed.SamanthaSweeting_straycat_12SamanthaSweeting_straycat_11SamanthaSweeting_straycat_17I stroked and tickled him SamanthaSweeting_straycat_8 and he licked and                                                                                                                 nuzzled me in return.

SamanthaSweeting_straycat_touchingpawsSamanthaSweeting_straycat_13Today, he went to the vet to get castrated and have a blood test. Once the results come through, he will need a new home. In the meantime, I need to think of a name for him.

Performing with Horses or Of the Unicorn II

CAvalle! by dance company Le Guetteur – Luc Petton & Cie, performed in the Abbey Saint Léger de Soissons in 2010. The piece included 3 dancers, an Iberian stallion and a crow, and used a combination of choreography and improvisation.

In 2011, French artist duo Art Orienté objet – Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoît Mangin – performed May the Horse live in me at Kapelica Gallery in Ljubliana, Slovenia. It was a bio-art experiment, in which Laval-Jeantet was injected with blood plasma extracted from a horse, to bring about a hybridisation of animal foreign body with her human body. In this interview with Aleksandra Hirszfeld, she describes the aims and effects of the performance. http://laznia.nazwa.pl/artandscience_wp/?page_id=306&lang=en


Discussing the work with Jurij Krpan, the gallery director, I was interested to hear of the soothing influence that an invited horse whisperer had on the skittish horse during preparations for the show. As soon as she stepped into the room, the horse gravitated toward her and relaxed as she stroked and massaged his body.

horse1 I am drawn to the prosthetic legs that Laval-Jeantet wears in this and an earlier performance, Felinanthropy (2009), and how they force the human movements closer to the animal. AOdO 2007 Felinanthropy

I am reminded of Rebecca Horn’s Body Sculptures of the 1970’s, in particular Unicorn.Rebecca_Horn.png

The Tate display caption reads:

Unicorn 1970-72
The unicorn was a medieval symbol for purity, chastity and innocence. The German title Einhorn also contains a pun on the artist’s name. This work was designed for a performance by a friend of the artist. Horn wrote: ‘the performance took place in early morning – still damp, intensely bright – the sun more challenging than any audience… her consciousness electrically impassioned; nothing could stop her trance-like journey: in competition with every tree and cloud in sight…and the blossoming wheat caressing her hips’. This account emphasises both graceful movement and the element of self-exposure that is often found in Horn’s work.

Item no 7 on my letter to father Christmas when I was 6: “Fury (sic) stickers and a shiny unicorn”.