While the bones on display are casts from animals discovered in the La Brea tar pits in urban Los Angeles, California, Day discovered in her research that they have a San Antonio connec-tion, as well. During the ice age, these super-felines roamed caves near San Antonio, and the skeleton of a local saber-toothed cat is housed at the Texas Natural Science Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Day's installation transcends traditional museum displays with dramatic stage lighting and prominent, glistening support lines. Furthermore her concept for this piece is quite different from the didactic goals of a natural history exhibition.
Day's previous sculptural works often utilized costumes, undergarments, and wetsuits—materials that typically cover one's body—to tell stories. For CatFight, she chose to focus on the figure, albeit skeletal. This shift in focus on presence rather than absence is a relatively new direction for the artist. who began working earnestly with the figure in Portable CatFight from 2007. In that work she took two cat skeletons, the size of domesticated felines, and strung them between the exterior walls of a birdcage-like cube. Unlike the cats in Portable CatFight, here the heavy skeletons are weighted by gravity rather than other methods of attachment, such as hoops, a signature of Day's work.
An intriguing synthesis of natural history diorama, boxing ring, and soap-opera catfight, CatFight reanimates the bones of an extinct creature to make a strong yet playful comment on contemporary gender stereo-types. The bones take on new significance and meaning: they can be seen as surro-gates for actresses pulling hair and scratching at each other over the attention of a lover, or over the jealousy that occurs when one's social standing eclipses another's. Any meaningful spectacle requires the presence of spectators, and the snakes in the exhibition serve as a masculine foil to the felines' feminine association. However the piece is interpreted, its clear that Day is successful at evoking power-ful narratives through her manipulation of objects.
—Alexander Freeman, Education Curator