A Catastrophic Virtue
Gregory Kalliche, Naomi Nadreau, Mégane Voghell
March 25- April 15
A Catastrophic Virtue presents three artist’s interpretations of Catbox Contemporary’s structure. Over the gallery’s history, participating artists have intervened with the cat tree in a variety of ways. Some embrace the opportunity to create miniature exhibitions in the two small gallery spaces while others choose to utilize the many faux-furred platforms as sculptural plinths. Others still have gone as far as to create their own cat furniture or re-arrange parts to existing trees to create unique objects. Between Kalliche, Nadreau, and Voghell, the full range of possibilities is present for the first time in one installation.
I once read a news story about a nursing home in Rhode Island that had a resident cat named Oscar. As far as cats go, Oscar didn't look out of the ordinary; he had mid-length hair, a gray and white face accented with dark stripes. Oscar’s yellow eyes were encircled by black fur which mimicked eyeliner. Despite his unassuming normality, the nursing home cat wasn’t just an ancillary comfort. He demonstrated the agency and motivation that most cats have, an imperceptible secret agenda to those who aren’t paying close enough attention. Oscar the cat was able to identify which of the elderly patients was next in line to die. Whether operating by chemical, instinctual, or even supernatural means, the small cat was able to identify the person closest to their own end. Once figured out, the mild-mannered cat would start spending all his time with that person, until ultimately ushering them into their next life. He was extremely consistent, passed the point of happenstance or luck. The doctors said Oscar's streak of correct predictions lasted into the dozens of residents.
Our relationship with cats has always been a little mysterious. Most times it ends up feeling like we need them more than they need us. I wonder what it would be like to suddenly have Oscar shadowing you. Why is this cat suddenly so fond of you? After the two of you become inseparable, people in the home would start to look at you differently. Maybe some start to act nicer to you. Others might stop acknowledging you, treating you like a living ghost. If it went on long enough, even you wouldn’t be able to shake the feeling that something might be funny about your new relationship. Whisperings and gossip about the real significance of Oscar would start to get louder and harder to ignore. Is the cat ever wrong? If not is there an inherent comfort in that? How could something so cute be so grim? Feelings of denial would creep in as you desperately rationalize that you must be the exception to the rule. This cat has no medical training, it must be wrong, any lore surrounding him is superstitious at best. But statistically you would be wrong, and eventually you would experience what many have experienced before you. This small cat, who before a few weeks ago you had no relationship with, now meant the world to you as he sat quietly by you. Oscar’s face displays the restful contentment of someone who knows they have done a good job. And with that image crystalized in your eyes you slip away into sleep one last time.