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The Animal Within | APPetizer – Isolde Maria Joham

mumok collects

A small sample from our exhibition The Animal Within – Creatures in (and outside) the mumok Collection.
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Isolde Maria Joham painted an iconic motif in the tradition of both political montage and the realist trends of the postwar period: US rocket launches conducted from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida were ubiquitous in the nineteen-eighties media as key elements of the competition between the Cold War superpowers. While the upper half of the painting is defined by the well-ordered maneuvers of technology, in the lower half chaos reigns. Joham overlays a news image with the motif of a cowboy rounding up horses, thereby weaving together two worlds that do not belong together but nonetheless participate in the same mythology. Thus, the cowboy stands as much for the colonial-American (and stereotypically masculine) dream of freedom, self-determination, and the conquest of endless expanses as do the pioneering technical achievements made in outer space. In 1977, NASA launched the Enterprise test program, in which the engineless space shuttle was lifted into the air using a modified Boeing 747 as its transporter vehicle before being released. In her painting, Joham references a photograph depicting the docking of the unmanned and unpowered rocket. However, by the time the painting was completed, NASA had already made further advances and had begun conducting manned space travel using space shuttles. In the same year, Ronald Reagan—formerly an actor in Westerns—became US president, a Republican whose stated objective was to win the arms race between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Meanwhile in Germany in 1981, the German singer and songwriter Ina Deter sang: “Wenn schon’n Cowboy Präsident werden kann” (meaning: If even a cowboy can become president).