NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

The Pet Shop, 2023

150 x 200 cm

Hand sewn rat-, bunny-, guinea pig- and hamster costume (synthetic fur), four 24-hour pet adoption performances in people’s homes, hamster house installation (chipboard, wood, prints on newspaper, wheat glue, neon green synthetic fur) (200x150x150cm), four pet beds for people (60x60cm), four portraits of pets and owners (21x30cm), three group photos of the pets (30x40cm), four screens with adoption documentation (rat – 8:49 min, guinea pig – 37:13 min, hamster – 26:56 min, bunny – 27:32 min), website, instagram account, 250 business cards, four consent agreements, feeder, water bottle, chains, headset and mp3 player playing The Pet Diaries (40:40 min) + 15 min performance

My idea of embodying animal characters came in 2019 when I found the Bear Park in Helsinki. I thought that it was a strange place. Had it ever been a bear there? Where was it now? I made a bear costume and went to live as the bear of the bear park for a day. This work spiraled into a work about the situation of the biggest predators in the Nordic countries. At least in Norway, the general thought is that predators are unwanted. I took my lynx-, wolf-, wolverine- and bear costume to a public square in Bergen (NO) where they roamed freely between the tourists and inhabitants of Bergen, creating some kind of utopia where predators and humans coexist. That made me think about the fact that we do have predators that we want to have close to us. They even live in our homes, but they have a different label – pets. So in 2020 I made a cat costume and put up an online ad where I looked for people who wanted to adopt me as their house cat for a week. By this I wanted to make performance art accessible – I will come to you. The cat project was put on hold due to covid. During the lockdown I followed the news. People at home, getting pets to keep them company, to fill the void of social interaction. Already by the summer, the shelters were over-flooding with pets that no longer was wanted, or people realized that it is a lot of work to care for another being. Thus, they were discarded. I’m fascinated with the relationships between pets and people, and the hierarchy of value that applies to the different species. Even though pets often are treated as friends or family, most often they don’t have a say in their fate. A few years ago there was a ban to sell bigger pets in pet shops, but that didn’t apply to the smaller creatures. That’s why I chose to magnify these smaller creatures that can still be bought from shops. However, in my shop, the pet’s get to choose. It is a consensual pet adoption service.