Fox hunting in the city. The city of London. Tarquin will be overjoyed … TALLY-HO! That’s right folks, the same city inhabited by soulless billionaires enabled by Parliament’s toffs, the same toffs with literal blood on their hands thanks to an unhealthy pastime of murdering foxes for fun. Fox-hunting … City of London; you expect some kind of wormhole to open up and suck you into a dentist’s chair in the middle of a musty smelling room with wood-panelled walls, ham face Cameron in his scrubs, leaning over you with some rusty old NHS (remember that?) implements and a demonic smile.
And calm. These foxes are indeed life-size city foxes, but ceramic life-size city foxes. 60 of them. And the hunters will likely be more cultured, as Finnish artist Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä brings her Wild in the City project to the East End as part of this year’s London Design Festival. Still can’t get that image of old ham face out of my head, though.
Happening upon one of Heikkilä’s sculptures should be enough to jolt images of being operated on by the chief of the Bullingdon Club elite — for this is a game of finders keepers; an interesting twist in the heart of Britain’s ‘what’s yours is mine’ culture. Hanna-Kaarina makes her city foxes (or city rabbits, in an ongoing project in Helsinki), hides them around town, snaps a Polaroid (which is also added to her Instagram feed), and the rest of the story is up to you.
The Finn is all too aware of the fox as a symbol of Britain’s class war, and the significance of their hunting ground in this project surely hasn’t been lost on her, but there is clearly something more holistic and altruistic about this urban installation: “I want to wake up and surprise people in their everyday environment and consider the interaction between art, man and animals in their shared urban environment. Animals in an urban setting arouse feelings about how we should relate to them. Do they have the same rights as man to use urban space. Should we let them spread freely?”
Popping up at Old Street Underground Station during LDF, Helsinki-based gallery Saariaho Järvenpää will showcase an edition of ten luxury versions of the city foxes, alongside 60 Polaroids of their wild counterparts roaming East London. The hunt gets called off 27 September.