09.07 tierwerden

ngbk, neue gesellschaft für bildende kunst, berlin

das aus­stel­lungs­pro­jekt beschäf­tigt sich mit auf­lö­sungs- und wer­dens­pro­zes­sen ani­ma­li­scher und mensch­li­cher iden­ti­tä­ten auf der theo­re­ti­schen grund­la­ge des kon­zepts vom tier-wer­den, wie es deleu­ze und guat­ta­ri in tau­send pla­teaus for­mu­liert haben. maty­sik rich­tet in die­sem rah­men eine art infor­ma­ti­ons­zen­trum ein, das sei­ne recher­chen zum the­ma zugäng­lich macht. mit pla­ka­ten ruft er zur akti­ven betei­li­gung an der abstim­mung zur ände­rung des embryo­nen­schutz­ge­set­zes der bun­des­re­pu­blik deutsch­land ent­spre­chend sei­nes refe­ren­dum-ent­wurfs (s. 09.06) auf.

the exhi­bi­ti­on pro­ject looks at pro­ces­ses of dis­in­te­gra­ti­on and crea­ti­on of ani­mal and human iden­ti­ties, based on the theo­re­ti­cal con­cepts of beco­ming an ani­mal, as for­mu­la­ted by deleu­ze and guat­ta­ri in thousand pla­teaus. within this frame­work maty­sik estab­lishes an infor­ma­ti­on cen­ter, whe­re his rese­arch on this topic is made available. by use of pla­cards he calls for acti­ve par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in the vote to chan­ge the law pro­tec­ting embry­os in ger­ma­ny, which cor­re­sponds to his con­cept for a refe­ren­dum (see 09.06).
rese­arch on and the crea­ti­on of hybri­di­ty repres­ents an important focus in rei­ner maria matysik’s work. the three works on dis­play refer – at socio­lo­gi­cal, etho­lo­gi­cal and gene­tic levels – to various phe­no­me­na of beco­ming ani­mal or beco­ming human and each have models in cul­tu­ral histo­ry and the histo­ry of sci­ence. the video “feral child,” which shows a young woman naked in the jungle, takes as its model the half-mythi­cal reports of feral child­ren who were rai­sed by ani­mals and, fol­lo­wing their ent­ry into civi­liza­ti­on, con­tin­ued to dis­play ani­mal beha­vi­ors and in this way under­mi­ned the roman­tic con­cept of the “noble savage.”

the second video, “jun­ge und affe” [boy and mon­key], takes as its start­ing point a famous stu­dy by a mar­ried ame­ri­can rese­arch cou­ple who­se film mate­ri­al maty­sik uses as foo­ta­ge and rear­ran­ges. in 1931 and 1932, the kellogg’s rai­sed the baby chim­pan­zee, gua, tog­e­ther with their own son, donald, in order to see what deve­lo­p­men­tal dif­fe­ren­ces exist bet­ween mon­keys and humans when they expe­ri­ence the iden­ti­cal upbrin­ging. the chim­pan­zee is ide­al­ly sui­ted for a fun­da­men­tal inter­ro­ga­ti­on of the bor­der bet­ween human and non-human ani­mals, as it’s geno­ty­pe is appro­xi­m­ate­ly 95 per­cent the same as human. this gene­tic pro­xi­mi­ty may – along with ilya ivanov’s noto­rious attempts at cross­bree­ding humans and apes in the ear­ly 1920s – have pro­vi­ded the inspi­ra­ti­on for the third part of matysik’s work: a plea in the form of pos­ters and ques­ti­on­n­aires through which the artist seeks peo­p­le who, in the ser­vice of sci­ence, are wil­ling to offer their ser­vices as a parent for a mon­key-human hybrid.

as a “mad” sci­en­tist who has alre­a­dy crea­ted a furor with orga­nic pla­s­tic and the crea­ti­on of “future lif­e­forms,” in a new ver­si­on of his much-lik­ed “hoax,” maty­sik plays here with the vague fears peo­p­le have of a sci­ence which ans­wers only to its­elf as well as with the naï­ve expec­ta­ti­ons of heal­ing which are con­nec­ted with pro­gress in the life sci­en­ces. rumors still cir­cu­la­te today that such expe­ri­ments take place suc­cessful­ly behind clo­sed doors. and yet despi­te the fact that an enti­re zoo of trans­ge­ne­tic ani­mals has long exis­ted in various rese­arch faci­li­ties, such attempts at cross­bree­ding are, in gene­ral, offi­ci­al­ly con­dem­ned as unethical.

the two examp­les of humans beco­ming ani­mal as well as ani­mals beco­ming human, which maty­sik has sel­ec­ted and new­ly-inter­pre­ted for his films, both inves­ti­ga­te the role of her­edi­ty and socia­liza­ti­on in iden­ti­ty for­ma­ti­on or for an indi­vi­du­al beco­ming human or beco­ming ani­mal. abo­ve all, howe­ver, the pos­ter with its pseu­do-sci­en­ti­fic appeal upsets the human self-image and rai­ses ques­ti­ons as dis­tur­bing as they are current.

jes­si­ca ullrich