A Bestial Journey to the Center of Illinois / Hyperallergic

WOLF performance in “The Unreliable Bestiary” (2013) (image courtesy of Deke Weaver)

WOLF performance in “The Unreliable Bestiary” (2013) (image courtesy of Deke Weaver)

CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. — I traveled down to Champaign-Urbana carrying two cassette tapes of BESTIARY, a mix tape by the music label Hairy Spider Legs. On my Amtrak ride back to Chicago, I held zero cassette tapes in hand, and instead carried with my a head full of WOLF, the third installation in Deke Weaver’s lifelong project, The Unreliable Bestiary. This felt like a reasonable swap to me — I traded cassette tapes inspired by medieval bestiaries, also known as the “book of beasts,” assigned a spiritual purpose to every animal, and contained bestiary manuscripts that acted as a visual language for the public, which was usually illiterate.

Weaver’s project takes its inspiration from the literary concept of an unreliable narrator and the medieval bestiary, twisting and modernizing it along the way. It considers our stories of animals, humanity’s relationship to said animals, and the worlds that animals inhabit now. In the medieval bestiaries, there are a number of animals per letter of the alphabet; in Weaver’s project, there is only one animal per letter, and there is also an end date with a far less magic, far more soberingly realistic message about the future of each species. By 2050, climate change and surging populations will send approximately one-half of the species on Earth into a state of extinction.

Read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/84788/a-bestial-journey-to-the-center-of-illinois/