Friday, July 16, 2010
June 27, 2010
Sometime around 9 a.m.
Local flea market
Set aside, for a moment, the lessons of Dian Fossey and the tragedy that befell Digit or any of the numerous animal rights arguments that might erupt from the sight of this image (we get that Fossey studied gorillas; the message is still the same).
Just behold what was once living and now is sentenced to eternity as a floor (or wall?) decoration, complete with a little red flourish wrapped around its head, limbs and torso.
The baboon was killed during an African safari, or so related the flea market seller, who said he’d acquired the piece maybe 20-25 years ago. Additional artifacts up for sale in his area included cow skulls, the kind you might see in a George O’Keefe painting; assorted deer heads and the like.
The sight of this baboon made me think back to when I was a local newspaper editor, when my boss asked our photographer to take a picture of a deer that died after falling partially through a lake’s thin ice. The image on page one received mixed reactions; her response was, “It’s a part of life.”
What my editor meant was there’s no escaping tragedy. While it’s hard to look at, as a black and white image on page one, it's also, perhaps, necessary. The ubiquitous dead deer on the side of the road all start to blur against the landscape; one dead deer thrust onto a pond against the eerie emptiness of an early winter morning brings reality into sharp focus. That dead deer’s story is written. The baboon’s, for good or bad, continues.
The price for this item, by the way: $500.