The mumok collection contains nearly five hundred works related to animals—a considerable quantity that raises the question of what kind of zoo the museum in fact is. What is kept, researched, and displayed both here and there to protect “wild life” and the “freedom of art”? And in whose interest?
The Animal Within addresses such questions and uses the popular appeal of animals to reflect on the nature of sex, hunger, and affection, as well as on family and gender relations, socialization and domestication, and, not least, on the enduring impact of colonial history. Who leads whom on a leash? Who clips whose wings? Who scratches whose back?
The exhibition is thus less about animals than about bodies, moving or still, reclining or standing, crouching or crawling. The animal as a motif serves as a starting point to get to a materialist understanding of art and life. For in the Western world, “taming and framing” is what we do to mark our territories and claim our subjectivities.
Curated by Manuela Ammer and Ulrike Müller