What’s the easiest way to tame a tiger? Shoot it, and mount its head on your wall.
Taxidermy represents just one of the elements of the domestication of animals. Hunting itself is mostly done for sport, not survival, and any kills are simply trophies, self-awarded for man’s vicarious triumph over nature.
Taxidermy takes the concept of the zoo one step further, by preserving animals in their perfect and idealised states, while avoiding all of the trouble and expense of keeping a real animal.
The stuffed animal, or more accurately, the skin of the animal, is just a hollow shell, a symbol for the living, breathing creature from which it came. In this way, taxidermy is like a sculptural equivalent of photography, reducing reality to simpler, empty forms that we conflate with their actual counterparts.
Not only has taxidermy spawned a strange industry of false eyes, teeth and tusks, but the domestication process has come full circle, with competitive taxidermy.
The irony of taxidermy is that in order to cheat death and preserve the subject, we must first kill it. [link to cannibalism]