Flag #10: Miami, Florida
Location: Miami, Florida (Primary Projects Gallery)
Name: The Feast of Species
In May 2014, in celebration of the “Animal Issue”, Red Flag Magazine hosted a dinner party where each guest was required to arrive dressed as a creature of their choice. 50 guests in total sat at one long dinner table where they were invited to embody and represent that creature for the evening. A five course vegan dinner was served as each guest stayed in character to shed light on their creature’s special traits and on what each species needs to thrive in a world that is losing a piece of its natural habitat to human intervention every second.
A woman dressed as a snow leopard spoke her turn: ” I am a solitary creature. I live in high elevations, in cold craggy mountains. I am crepuscular, which means I am most active at dawn and dusk. I cannot roar. Instead, I hiss, and growl. When the wind blows hard I use my long fluffy tail as a blanket to shield my face. I am endangered and you will likely never see me in the wild even if you seek me out your entire lives.” The shark sitting next to her nods, he has his own burdens to bear. He may not be endangered, but not many seek him out. After media coverage the likes of “Jaws” and “Shark Week” most people are happy to never see a shark in their lifetime. For this reason people are also slower to stand up for their rights, and shark fining trade continues to decimate millions of sharks in our waters every year. Meanwhile, on average, only one human is killed from a shark attack off American shores every two years.
Many species are endangered and some of the dinner guests represented those who have already passed into extinction. Animals in their wild native habitat are becoming rarer and rarer, and it was clear from the joy on the faces of all the hooved, clawed, winged, and furry guests that it’s also becoming rare for humans to be the wild creatures that we are. “Wild” is more a concept than it is a real flesh and blood thing in the world. We have sectioned off patches of land and designated them as “wilderness”, but then we build roads, parks grounds, surveillance, dams and drills within those lines. The wild places are nearly gone and all the wild things must conform to the ways of the altered world we’ve created.
One guest, a very wise owl, addressed the table: “I believe those humans have many habits and what they call “rituals”. For example, sometimes before they eat they light candles and say blessings. I don’t know what that means, but I was hoping we could try it.” And so, in the soft candle light 50 creatures held hands and shared the ritual of a blessing.
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