The Magpie’s Box

We were at Tate Britain in London a month or so ago when my eye was drawn to this exhibit, mainly because of the dead Magpie included as part of the art. I love stuffed birds and hate that they were killed to make objects for us to gawp at. I used to go to the Local Interest Centre as a child and get them to take the stuffed birds out of storage, take their glass-domed tops off, and let me sit there and draw them in pencil and pencil crayon.

This piece of art is a collection of mementos from a two-day performance art piece by Rose Finn-Kelcey from 1977.

Rose Finn-Kelcey - The Magpie's Box
Wood, steel, felt, varnish, stuffed magpie, audio tape of magpie sounds, call whistle and other materials

The 2016 label says:

This sculpture relates a two-day performance Finn-Kelcey made with two magpies in the window space of Acme Gallery, London in 1976. Finn-Kelcey spent her time in the space talking to the pair of magpies, offering them food and objects. She commented: ‘I wanted to talk about the potential for another language, apart from the existing one that we tend to feel is the only one… and through that talk about a potential for women having a voice’. This reflected a broader attempt by women in the 1970s to challenge the centrality of an authoritative ‘male voice’.

I don’t think it worked.

I hope she didn’t kill the Magpie for her art. It doesn’t seem ethical to abuse wildlife to complain about injustice. There are many metaphors and similes I could use to better describe what that’s like, but I’m not going to.

I prefer live Magpies:

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