The American radical feminist artist has included cats in her own work over the years, getting rather intimately close with two furry companions in her Infinity Kisses. In the first of our new series on artists and their pets, she writes about her supernatural cat, La Niña, who has turned her paws to art.

Marianne Tasick, Carolee Schneemann and La Ninã
Marianne Tasick, Carolee Schneemann and La Niña

I have experienced the remarkable devotion of dogs and cats since I was a child—but the deepest affinities are mysterious and seem to bridge the world of dreams and the quotidian, between the visible and the invisible, between domestic harmony and political violence. Now, my cat La Niña inhabits and enlarges every inexplicable psychic connection, which fills my life with delight and a sensuous joy.

“The deepest affinities are mysterious and seem to bridge the world of dreams and the quotidian”

I have the luxury of this small feline’s affection, wrapping me in her paws every night, pressing her face to mine, purring, licking my hands and face. This fragile, precious communication is on the edge of a world which is tipping, sliding and slipping into a lurid nightmare—spreading evil across cultures, continents and the flailing ecologies with are underwritten by greed, entitlement, aggression and pathological indifference to vulnerable nature. When I’m caressed by my cat, and admire her beauty and responsiveness, I wonder at the stretching, tearing contradictions surrounding the fragility of domestic constancy and the female traditions of empathic attention which are ever assailable.

La Niña’s artwork

This cat is humorous, creating tricks and jokes to amuse and delight humans. This cat worries when I travel away, she is protective if I am troubled. La Niña purposefully puts objects together—without ever having seen me work in the studio. And though it may be impossible to explain, she has manifested paranormal connections to previous cats, enhancing inspirations for my own creative intentions.

“My cat La Niña inhabits and enlarges every inexplicable psychic connection, which fills my life with delight and a sensuous joy”

La Niña’s assemblages require some explanation because each one of the configurations she assembles is placed and then left in position with her requesting my attention on the object. Once placed, she does not change the arrangement. The scattered cornmeal (shown above) was wrapped in a plastic container which La Niña carried in her mouth from the kitchen to another room. She clawed open the cornmeal package and spread it on the carpet. I was annoyed that she was now using my food for her configuration! She then gave me what I call the “La Niña look”, and I focused further on the cornmeal. I realized she had added seven blue jay feathers to the scatter. (The blue jay feathers were from a bowl in another room.)

 

 

The earlier configuration of Plastic Lid and Cat Toy also required my regard since the plastic lid was first placed on the bedroom floor, and somewhat later, La Niña brought a cat toy and laid it precisely on top of the lid. This consideration and predetermination seems remarkable, especially because cats are known for shredding and tearing malleable materials apart, whereas La Niña has made a series of connected elements.

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