Contemporary art is unique in its ability to stir up the conversation. Many question what is art or how can a blank canvas be called art. On Wednesday June 5 Sotheby’s of London sold a group of contemporary photos of Moscow’s Red Square actually taken by a chimpanzee to the highest bidder for 50,000 pounds, the equivalent of over $77,000.
Mikki the chimp was taught how to take photos by artists Vitaliy Komar and Alexander Melamid
“Our Moscow through the Eyes of Mikki” was created by Vitaliy Komar and Alexander Melamid in the 1990s when they took their pet project, “Collaboration with Animals”, to Moscow’s Red Square teaching Mikki the chimp how to take photographs. The blurry photos show how Moscow is viewed through the lens by a chimp. The Associated Press report stated that at the time of the photo shoot Mikki was a member in the Moscow Circus and passed away in 2007. According to the report by the Associated Press the buyer is Kira Flanzaich, a Russian art collector. The works also include photos taken by Guzelian of the artists teaching Mikki how to take his photographs. The photos were part of Sotheby’s auction titled Changing Focus – A Collection of Russian and Eastern European Contemporary Photography.
Komar and Melamid’s prove that animals as artists have value for creating beauty to adorn the walls.
Vitaliy Komar and Alexander Melamid’s art is created out of their beliefs of Soviet Nonconformist Art. In the early 1970s Komar and Melamid founded the SotsArt movement known as Soviet Pop Art. As true nonconformists Komar and Melamid queried why only humans should be seen to have artistic abilities that are valuable. In their quest to answer their question they began their project “Collaboration with Animals” in 1978 drawing with Tranda, a dog. They went on to work with elephants becoming founders in 1998 of the Lampang Elephant Art Academy at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Thailand in an effort to raise money for elephant sanctuaries for endangered Asian Elephants. Komar and Melamid’s original effort has now grown into The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project in which elephants are taught to paint keeping them mentally stimulated and in turn creating works of art that are sold to raise money needed to protect the elephant populations that are in the wild as well as in captivity.
Art can be seen as just about anything that one feels is beautiful and wants to own to adorn their abode. Komar and Melamid have shown how animals present a purity in art with their unique abilities in learning how to be artists. The works of Mikki and the elephants do what art is supposed to do, open up conversation. They present a wonderful look into everything that animals are capable of doing and the contributions that animals make to society.
Strike a pose for the camera and never be afraid to dance!
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