Detail from Boarders at Rest

Detail of Boarders at Rest (Le Repos des pensionnaires), 1971-72. Taxidermized birds and wool, each approximately 4 3/4 x 4 x 1 1/4 inches. Collection the artist. Other details of the work appear below.

In her studio in 1971-72 Messager produced The Boarders, a series of works that featured taxidermized sparrows that she posed in different vignettes. In one piece, dozens of them appeared to sleep peacefully in little knitted sweaters.


In its ability to freeze motion and extend presence taxidermy recalls photography for Messager. In this regard, The Boarders prefigures her subsequent use of photographic images as well as works using taxidermized animals (see Effigies and The Pikes). It also brings to mind the often sadistic innocence of children in which smaller things are made to act in imaginary play.


The use of "real" animals and the act of knitting make a close connection with real life and ordinary events and undermine the idea of art as something removed from everyday experience.

Boarders at Rest - 52K JPEG


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