I can hardly remember a time prior to the ubiquity of cat-related memes and the oft- celebrated/oft-derided sharing of adorable pics, gifs, and vids in which these felines present an array of subjectivities we daren’t publicize about ourselves; instead, finding fuzzy avatars to display our joy, our worry, and our vulnerability. In the gathering (mis)assumption that we distract ourselves with overloads of cuteness, we in fact find ways to cope with recognized and unrecognized difficulties, dealing with trauma through meowing pratfalls, unabashed grumpiness, elegance, (c)attitude, playful destructions of language, wide-eyed obliviousness, neediness, and defiance.
However, the mobilization of the feline as widely circulated and highly regarded imagery is of course nothing new, especially within the realm of artistic depiction. As far back as the Egyptian tombs, cats have been visually ever-present in representation; offering companionship to the living, escorting the dead to the afterlife. The artists compiled in I SEE CAT PEOPLE acknowledge and pay homage to this grand history of imagery. They also, and perhaps more importantly, render not just images and objects, but something personal and affecting as well.
The truth is, my first cat, St. Kitten, died over two years ago and I’m not completely done mourning that loss. I SEE CAT PEOPLE brings together a group of artists whom I think understand/understood loss better than I do. They also make, and have made, completely arresting artwork about the potency of companionship; how complicated, beautiful, and tragic it can be when we’re in the thralls of it, and also what remains when we lose it.
I am beyond pleased to be having this conversation at Heaven.
Cory Arcangel & Frankie Martin
Curated by Eric Ruschman