The California Snow Leopard

The California Snow Leopard

Christoph Kilian

Join us on campus for a one-day exhibition featuring our artist-in-residence, Christoph Kilian, on the rooftop of the UCLA Planetarium.
26 Sep 2023 - 2:00pm

"The California Spangled Cat is a completely new breed of American Domestic feline. All the genetic magic that produces the lush spotted coats of the world's big cats has been duplicated for the small, perfect bodies of these leopards for your living room."

On Tuesday, September 26th, from 2 to 7 pm, the California Snow Leopard will be visible through a telescope placed on the rooftop of the UCLA Planetarium, buzzing with dragonflies.

The little creature with leopard spangles on a white coat found its way into the world paired with an accompanying silver bowl through the 1986 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, an American luxury mail-order catalog. Its creator, Hollywood screenwriter Paul Casey Jr., developed the exclusive animal as a living memorial to its endangered relatives in the wild.

Fur coats were offered for sale in the same catalog just a few pages away. In addition to the high price of $1.400, the delivery time for the cat, which was difficult to breed in its snow-white form, was 8 months. The cat only found few buyers, and gradually Casey had to refocus his excitable mind on the more promising among his many projects. Thus, the process of the little leopard’s vanishment already began when it was born.

According to The International Cat Association, it has fully disappeared by now, foreshadowing a tragic parallel to its big relatives. In cat breeder circles, sometimes grey or ruddy specimens still appear and are, like the original, called “California Spangled”.

The white variant—the snow leopard—whose birth under the Californian sun was certainly the least expected and who was not even pictured in said Christmas catalog, but only evoked in enthusiastic words, dissolves, however, every day a little more - a possible improbability or improbable possibility, as also its name fades away.

The rare chance to capture the phantom through a telescope was therefore unforeseeable and revives the idea that the animal could be of enchanted nature.

About the artist:
Christoph Kilian, *1983, studied media arts at the Bauhaus University Weimar and the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. He lives between Cologne, Salzburg and Los Angeles, where he completed a guest study program at the ArtCenter College of Design in 2014 and currently is artist-in-residence at the UCLA Art|Sci Center. In a cross-media play and clash with technology, he constructs machine fairy tales that - often on the verge of futility - trace the magical.

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