The rats in the monkey’s cage

The rats in the monkey’s cage, 2011

 

Cameron Hayes
The rats in the monkey cage, 2011
Oil on linen
78 x 60 inches
Photo: Bill Orcutt
Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York

At the Mumbai Zoo the star attraction is the rhesus monkeys, and because of this, the zoo management has given them the biggest cage proportionate to their size. They are fed the best by the zoo staff and the visitors who ignore the “Don’t Feed the Animals” sign. The monkeys hang on to the ropes and cling to the car tires tied to the bottom of the ropes.

If you throw some food onto the cage floor, the monkeys will lean down from the rope and stretch for the food. The rats lay in wait for the monkeys to leave their rope prisons and to go for the food. They attack instantly and, all together, chase the hungry monkeys back up the rope or up the cage walls. Then you notice the bloodied bandages around the feet and hands of the monkeys, the faces of the monkeys that never sleep, and their stomachs that never get filled. The rats in India are the meanest in the world, and in the zoos they are the fattest. They bully all the animals in the zoos from the elephants to the lions.

This painting is about the many star attractions in the world which are really miserable and under the control of the rats under the surface.

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