Menagerie – Animals in the Art Zoo
Toolbox – Finnisch-Deutscher Projektraum, Koloniestraße 120
in cooperation with Madeinwedding
Exhibition April 29—May 20, 2016 29. April bis 20. Mai 2016
Curated by Anna E. Wilkens and Andreas Wolf with support by Karen Koltermann
The works in the exhibition deal with the most diverse relationships between animals, including human animals.
Text: Anna E. Wilkens
‘Menageries’ – courtly collections of animals (16th to 18th century), similar to Cabinets of Curiosity, in which animals were ‘displayed’ for reasons of being ‘exotic’ – are precursors to the modern zoo. The zoo, developed in the 19th century, relies on taxonomies that stem from the 18th century. These taxonomies are part of the modern scientific paradigm: zoos belong to modernity; menageries are pre-modern.
To the present day, the word ‘menagerie’ in German has undergone a shift of meaning, nowadays it signifies (in figurative use) a random and unsystematic collection of items or people. The example in the online edition of Duden, the German spelling authority for this usage is: ‘a whole menagerie of artists was present’.
The exhibition’s title points to the process of assembling the works: between curatorial concept and serendipity, and it furthermore emphatically stresses historicity: different historical stages in occidental human discourse on animals, especially post-medieval.