Exhibition: No Pets – An exhibition on “Wa (h) re animal” in Frankfurt (Oder) asks the right questions


Of course, the dead fish, the carp, can also be seen in a painting by Theodor Rosenhauer from 1940. The dramatic death of the fish on the Oder River in August made the exhibition of the Frankfurter Rathaushal Museum Für Modern Kunst (BLMK) all the more compelling as a beacon of the turbulent relationship between man and nature or the animals.

Curator Armin Hauer, who, as always, can take advantage of the entire collection of his collection at the annual exhibition of BLMK, also loses his usual reserve. While he usually likes to let the images speak for themselves and is careful not to overburden them with regulatory interpretations, he now looks closely at depictions of bullfights and circuses, and at still life, battle scenes and the many dogs, cats, birds, and horses.

Can you still eat animals today?

The viewer’s favorite companion of man is plunged into a completely moral dilemma today. Animal ethics, animal rights and soulmates are incompatible with today’s lifestyle of fast food and consumption. Even the classic spirits of the Dutch, reminiscent of the enchantingly beautiful pastel colors of Gunther Friedrich, for example, also heralded the scenes of the upcoming feast, where riders, partridges and ducks were something special.

Scenes of traditional country life, as demonstrated by photographers Thomas Clapper and Werner Mahler, look quite respectable. They speak of a pragmatic relationship between humans and their livestock, which is nonetheless distinguished by respect. A child sucks a sheep in a bottle while two cats compose just like a shot, like in the battle scene three frames later. And Joachim Richau’s picture of a farmer with his cow is almost a portrait of friendship.


On the other hand, the image from the Gondola Schulze-Eldoy slaughterhouse looks cruel, the blood glowing dark red, and the severed heads – a picture of shock, an indictment, but also a hymn to the sublimity of the slaughtered animal. The cyclist in Jürgen Wenzel’s oversized painting is also the fearsome Memento Mori, half plucked, bloody, possibly strangled. Even more ironic, however, is the installation by Susan Wierich, rebuilding a suburban Los Angeles garage she bought in 1996—only to discover that the previous owner, a truck driver, ran over the animals, “roadkill,” on the The wall is nailed and dotted with sayings: “Frog waving goodbye” saying there, or “A runner losing a race.”


Susan Weirish recreates the Los Angeles garage where the killed animals were kept

Susan Weirish recreates the Los Angeles garage where the killed animals were kept
© Photo: Christina Tillman

Of course, animals also appear as metaphors, as mythical creatures, as expressions of humans – in the cycle “Tiere und Menschen” by Hans Grundig, which reflects the experiences of the Nazi era, or in political commentary on martial law and martial law. Uprising in the graphic “1982” by Polish artist Jacek Sroka.


Cornelia slime, Siesta, 2007, acrylic, shellac, asphalt varnish on canvas

Cornelia slime, Siesta, 2007, acrylic, shellac, asphalt varnish on canvas
© Photo: Cornelia Slime / Archive BLMK

But even when people love animals and keep them as pets, uncomfortable questions arise. The celebration of elegance, beauty and strength, of which the photographs in the chapter “Beautiful Animal – Wild Animal” are most impressive, nonetheless showed animals in captivity or domestication: “Where can you find a hyena in Dresden,” Hauer asks, acknowledging the grief of a captive predator. And who knows, if Cornelia Slime’s big form of panting dogs wouldn’t prefer to continue chasing during their “nap.” Gunther Rieken, a native of Cottbus, at least makes his dog fly while the landscape below fades. Jan Prokoff’s collage of a street from a dog’s point of view is ironic: it’s not a pretty sight what lies around.

“Wa (h) re Tier” in Rathaushalle

exhibition It opens on Sunday (September 4) at 11:30 a.m. and can then be seen in Rathaushalle in Frankfurt (Oder) until November 6. 110 works by 81 artists will be on display.

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