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Temporary art installations to encompass wildlife themes

Fashion photographer Roberto Dutesco’s photographs of wild horses on Sable Island, such as this one, are world-renowned. Photos Submitted
Pictured is a fiberglass Funny Zoo sculpture of a rhinoceros, located at Funny Zoo’s office near Las Flores Canyon.
Suzanne Guldimann, Freelance Reporter
10:12 am PST February 2, 2016

The Cultural Arts Commission went wild at its January meeting, giving their approval to two proposals for wildlife-themed temporary art installations.  

One project would feature an interactive experience combining film, still photos and ambient sound, the other involves life-sized fiberglass animals.

Roberto Dutesco, a fashion photographer, began taking photos of the wild horses of Sable Island, Canada, in 1994. His work is displayed in a permanent photo exhibition called, “Wild Horses of Sable Island” at his gallery in New York, and has been the subject of an acclaimed documentary. 

Cultural Arts Commissioner Suzanne Zimmer introduced Dutesco to the commission. “Roberto has been photographing the wild horses of Sable Island for 20 years,” she said. “It’s become his life’s passion, his life’s work.”

Zimmer said Sable Island is a long, thin sandbar 200 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. “There’s no shade, no trees, just rainwater and grass. But in this harsh condition, thrive wild horses,” she said. “Lore is they got there by shipwrecks.” 

“I came across Roberto’s gallery quite by accident and it literally dropped me to my knees,“ said Zimmer. “A lot of people felt the same way. It’s one of the great destinations in New York.”

Dutesco told the commission that he envisions recreating the experience of a day on Sable Island using film, photos, sound and light. He called the project “Dream Journey,” and described it as a mobile museum contained in a 40-by-100 “pod.” The mission of the project is “awareness through beauty inspires conservation,” he said.

“When you are inside [it will be] a complete visual sensory experience to be on this windswept island in the middle of the Atlantic,” Dutesco said. 

“The Wild Horses of Sable Island Mobile Museum is a call to action in support of conservation projects around the world,” Zimmer added. “Most of us will never be able to experience a truly wild location like this, but it is so aligned with Malibu’s mission statement, I would love to bring it to Malibu. The show will be going to other cities, but we have opportunity to kick it off in Malibu. I am championing this because I love it.”

Zimmer said she hopes the county can be brought on board with the project. “The way I envisioned it is Zuma, “ she said. “I know the beaches don’t belong to us, they belong to the county, but Zuma feels like a 100-foot pod would fit.”

The mobile museum would remain in place for three months, before moving on to the next destination.   

The second animal-themed art project, entitled “Funny Zoo,” involves life-sized fiberglass animals that will be decorated by artists and installed throughout Malibu.

Malibu commuters may already be familiar with the animals—a small flock of them stand in front of the office of the Funny Zoo company’s founders Bernard Scoffié and Jean-Fabrice Brunel, on Pacific Coast Highway near Las Flores Canyon. The duo have previously organized several large-scale public art events, debuting their colorful zoo in Marseilles, France, in 2013.

“The Funny Zoo is a public art exhibition that talks about animals,” Scoffié told the commission. “Are they endangered? Do we need to get them into a zoo or leave them in a natural area?” 

Scoffié said the sculpted animals are intended to give the public an opportunity to  experience exactly what it feels to be near an animal not in the zoo. Each of them is speaking with new technology, displayed on your cellphone. “They say, ‘Who am I, I am a hippo, and there are no more hippos, except in a river in Africa,’” he said.

The organizers said each animal will be funded by sponsor and that the sponsor has the choice to give the animal to an auction organized by Funny Zoo, with proceeds going to a charity of choice, or to retain the animal after the installation ends. Their goal is to place the animals in several Los Angeles locations, including West Hollywood, Venice and Beverly Hills.

“Each city that is hosting Funny Zoo, we will talk about the charity we could help,” Scoffié said, suggesting that the project proposed for Malibu could potentially help fund an Arts Commission priority, like Legacy Park.

Artists who have already expressed interest in the project include Linda Vaccaro, a former Malibu resident who participated in the similar 2001-2002 Los Angeles Angels project, Malibu painter Jeremiah Redclay, and local pop artist Ivo Spriov.

The project’s organizers explained that they would like to see 50-70 animals in each city.

The commission unanimously approved recommending both public art projects to the Malibu City Council.

More information on the “Wild Horses of Sable Island”  is available at http://dutescoart.com. The organizers of the Funny Zoo  encourage Malibuites to check out the animals on PCH, or learn more online at www.funnyzoo.us.