Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
– 4 March 2018
The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg is focusing on animals for a period of four months. The themes it is tackling are respect for animals and the relationship between animals and humans which will be looked at using representations of animals in art.
More than 200 international loans show animal illustrations in various media and, on a visual level, invite visitors to develop their own thoughts on how to deal with animals and to think about where they stand. The exhibition pleads for an “animal turn”, in which “the relationship between animals and humans must be renegotiated” and “animals should finally get their rights” – because their subjective feelings, their individuality and vulnerability demand respect.
The discussion about animal rights and dealing with them is ever-present in politics and science. Implementing the arguments practically, however, often fails to take place and consumer society’s behaviour does not reflect these ethical principles. This exhibition endeavours to raise questions in a non-verbal way.
Animals were first represented in cave drawings which has made us reflect on the relationship between people and animals ever since. And this fluctuates between idyllic co-habitation, metaphysical admiration and scientific screening. However, artists have always been on a quest for similarities and boundaries. The question as to whether humans are animals or where the line can be drawn seems to have occupied people’s minds over the centuries and across regional boundaries. The blending of animals and people in Greek mythologies and in modern film plays around with these boundaries as these half-man, half-animal creatures have supernatural powers.
This appeal is accompanied in the form of an exhibition from other collections. So there are “satellites” positioned throughout the museum showing the works from its own holdings. These are divided into special themed areas, such as animal alphabets, skins used in fashion, art nouveau fish decoration, the representation of birds in photography, and cat posters. The Centrum für Naturkunde has also collaborated by presenting an exhibition from a scientific perspective.
The exhibition catalogue published by Hirmer Verlag offers a deeper insight into the ethics of the relationship between mankind and animals in various essays and articles.