Cat's Meow

David Rimanelli on Catholic No. 1: Cats

New York

Left: Roe Ethridge, Little Chrissy, 2003. Right: Gabriel Orozco, Cat in the Jungle (detail), 1992.

Catholic No. 1: Cats—a charming volume put out by Evil Twin Publications and D.A.P. (“with assistance from: VICE”) that celebrates feline grace, beauty, and naughtiness—arrives in the mail. “This is actually Catholic v1.5,” editors Jesse Pearson and Glynnis McDaris explain. “This sounds nerdy but it’s true. The first Catholic was published in an edition of 1,000 handmade zines to accompany a group show we curated in November, 2003, at Guild and Greyshkul in New York.” The book contains contributions from over 100 artists and writers, including Roe Etheridge, Richard Kern, Steve and Mary Lafreniere, Matt Keegan, Ryan McGinley, the late Colin De Land, Kembra Pfahler, Terry Richardson, Dash Snow, Jim Drain, Bruce Nauman, Gelatin, and, on the high-end of the blue-chip scale, Balthus (who is represented by King of Cats, 1935). Kelly Kuvo’s “R.I.P. Jabberjaw,” illustrated with kitty-mortuary photos by Adam Dugas, is morbidly droll: “Until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t a ‘bleeding heart’ Libra like my mom. I tried like HELL to be a selfish hard-ass.” But the passing of newborn kitten Jabberjaw during the 2003 New York blackout changed all that. “A couple of weeks passed before I could muster the energy to give lil’ Jabbers a proper funeral ceremony and burial”—this I found really creepy, especially coupled with Dugas’s picture of the kitten encased in a Zip-Loc bag—“But I did… All remaining eight cat lives were symbolically buried with him.” (A few days later, I run into Kuvo, who informs me that last Halloween she disinterred Jabberjaw’s remains and made art out of them.) Gabriel Orozco’s Cat in the Jungle, 1992, which graced the cover of the April 1996 Artforum, gets a double-page spread, deservedly. Of course, any compilation of this kind is bound to inspire cat-and-art fanciers to complain about omissions. Where was Karen Kilimnik, Vincent Fecteau’s early kitty collages, Nobuyoshi Araki, Warhol? And what about Rhonda Lieberman’s forthcoming Cats-in-Residence program, for which more than two dozen artists will design an “inter-species hangout area” to facilitate stray cat adoption? But this is small beer. On the facing page beside a photo by Kate Lacy of a soulful (and fancy) Ocicat, there’s a guide to proper nutrition, “HEALTHY CATS NOW! Stop Settling for Ralston-Purina,” with a section on “Herbs for Felines—A Beginner’s Guide.” Caraway seed tea is recommended as a digestive aid and “is used as a remedy for flatulence. (Cat farts are the worst.)”