June 4, 2012 at 4:52 PM ET
Is the "Orvillecopter" — a four-propellered remote-controlled dead cat assembled by Dutch artist Bart Jansen and currently on display the Kunstrai artfestival in Amsterdam — a thoughtfultribute to Jansen's late cat, a cynical grab at attention beyond the insular art world, a biting indictment of U.S. military dronepolicy … or just gross?
The kitty copter currently burning upthe Internet is "half cat, half machine," Jansen said in a SkyNewsinterview. Orville the deceased cat, himself named for aviation pioneer Orville Wright, was hitby a car, Jansen said. “After a period of mourning, he received his propellersposthumously."
WhileAmericans may be as surprised as Orville appears to be, as he soars around, spread-eagled, the repurposing of dead pets isn't unusual outside the United States.
"This is sort of a Europeanflavor of art making," explained a bemused Paddy Johnson when I asked thewell-known art blogger WTF in a phone interview. Artists outside the UnitedStates have a history of finding new uses for expired household pets, Johnson went on toexplain. That this dead cat can also fly, however, is somewhat new.
Another Dutchartist, Katinka Simonse, is known (and reviled) for her dead animalart projects — most infamously a purse made from her 3-year-old cat Pinkeltje. Unlike Jansen, Simonse, aka TINKEBELL, didn't wait fornature, or traffic, to take its course. She claims to have snapped her cat'sneck herself. Yet Simonse says her work brings attention to animal suffering.
Far fromendearing, Simonse's art piece made from her dead cat earned her so much hatemail, she published what she says is just 1 percent of the torrent of anger in a book entitled "Dearest Tinkebell," which also includes personal info about the hatemailers.
Reactions to Jansen's "Orvillecopter" are far more favorable. Even the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals can't quite condemn the Dutch oddity. In a statement provided to msnbc.com, PETA proclaimed: "It'sa macabre way to honor a beloved family member."