In 1974 the Center for Art and Communication (CAYC), an Argentinian art center famous for its innovative exhibitions, hosted a show of conceptual art by 24 Hungarian artists, Hungría 74, and produced a portfolio now at the Getty Research Institute.
One of the objects in the show, Like a Bird, consisted of a cage that had been transformed by the artist István Haraszty into a conceptual piece. He installed an electrical-magnetic system, which controlled the door’s movement in relation to the position of a bird inside the cage. As the artist explained
"When the bird sits on the red-black resting pole, the door of the cage opens.
When it flies towards the door, the magnetic field disappears.
And the door once again closes."
Below, some of the artist's notes on the installation.
Just finished The Case of Conrad Tulayev. The cage is a good metaphor.
The cruelty and hypocrisy of mistreating that bird just to make social commentary. How much harder could it have been to get across the intended message without actually abusing an innocent creature? We wouldn't tolerate the artist putting an innocent person in such a cage to make the same symbolic gesture, but we ignore the bird's distress and suffering without a second thought.
What wretches we humans are, protesting injustice by callously inflicting it on those weaker than ourselves, and thinking it justified because it serves our own interests. The only difference between this "protest" and the forces it protests is one of scale - the underlying inhumanity and selfishness is identical, just not of the same massive scope. So much for "Art".
@G - I very much doubt that this was displayed for any length of time with a bird in it. It was the concept that mattered, and what survives is not the cage itself but the artist's plans for it. I don't think the sort of people who staged this exhibit would enjoy tormenting the bird.
Brevity does not negate the injustice. Again, replace the bird with a person, or even a type of animal held in higher regard by the average person such as a dog, and people would still be horrified, even if you only imprisoned them for a few days. You only aren't disgusted because it was a "lesser" bird.
Also, the survival of the piece itself is irrelevant. I'm not criticizing the records of it that survive, but the installation itself. The work itself was hypocritical and cruel.
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