Maybe this is all why I like taxidermy so much. No one would ever mistake a mounted animal for a live one, no matter how intently the taxidermist tucks his eyelids and paints his nostrils. No matter how lifelike the pose. I mean, which—to borrow a phrase—is the authentic animal?
From Magritte, we know neither of those is the authentic animal. That both are photographs, and thus they’re subjective representations of the authentic animal. The taxidermy mount is more authentic than a photograph—not only for its three dimensions, but also for its materials. Here is the actual skin of the animal! And yet we all know taxidermy is false. It requires a lie to be best appreciated. This mount looks (but is not) the most real. Blue ribbon!
On the wall of my living room, hanging right above the sofa, is the mounted head of the elk N’s father shot a couple years ago. Maybe you’ve seen it. He didn’t have the wall space for it and we do, so it’s on long-term loan (though I’m afraid it won’t be coming with us to Alabama). I’d never seen a real, live elk before we got the mount, and of course I still haven’t. More importantly, though, I never would have seen this particular elk were it not for a taxidermist in South Dakota who mounted the head. The animal would have died and been forgotten by everyone but the man responsible. Taxidermy then, is, yes, an act of commemoration for the hunter, of fetishization maybe, but for everyone else it can be a form of introduction. A limited and some may argue unethical form of introduction, but an introduction all the same. A chance at an encounter.
(Ophelia by Idiots)