HUMAN ANIMAL II. / THE WOLVES ARE FULL, THE SHEEP ARE SAFE, THE PIGS ARE LAUGHING
Authors: Alena Adamíková, Robert Bielik, Helmut Bistika, Lenka Černota (CZ), Pola Dwurnik (PL), Tomáš Džadoň, Jarmila Sabová Džuppová, Matej Fabian, Jana Farmanová, Andrew Ellis Johnson (USA), Tomáš Klepoch, Jaroslav Malík (CZ), Oľga Paštéková, Jozef Pilát, Matej Rosmány, Adam Šakový, Michaela Šuranská, Ján Triaška, Marc Vilallonga (ES), Ján Zelinka
The international project Human Animal II. / The wolves are full, the sheep are safe, the pigs are laughing follows on from the animal-themed exhibition Human Animal I. / Next of Kin: Ape – Dog – Cat which was held at the Gallery of Spiš Artists in 2021. The project is presented as part of the Themes dramaturgical cycle of exhibitions and is supported by the Slovak Arts Council.
The exhibition examines humankind as an integral element of the animal kingdom and maps a trio of animals (the wolf - the sheep - the pig) which are connected not only with local agrarian traditions but also with associated symbolic, mythological and religious meanings. Works by twenty artists from five different countries (CZ, ES, PL, USA) are a wry but serious reflection of the historical, local and also global experiences, ideas and prejudices associated with the wolf, the sheep and the pig. While the sheer breadth of various perspectives on this topic is inexhaustible, the exhibition compiles a fascinating mosaic of symbolic images of human perception of their closest species. We must be aware of how our behaviour towards animals, how we judge them and the attributes which we assign to them is a result of our anthropocentric approach which is often blind to the suffering of those who lack a voice of their own.
Until the middle of the last century Slovakia was a predominantly agrarian country, and the trio of animals (the wolf – the sheep – the pig) played important roles in human life, either in a positive or a negative sense. While the wolf – sheep relationship can be read as a opposition between black and white, between good and evil, the pig has a more ambivalent role in human thinking despite its usefulness and its perceived high intelligence. The sheep was among the first animals to be domesticated by humankind and played a key role in the development of civilization. It is also an immensely important symbol in Christianity and is particularly associated with the characteristics of docility and meekness. The sheep never resists; it makes no effort to defend itself against the knife in the hand and forgets (?) the discomforts to which humankind subjects it. Christ is both the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd who leads his flock of believers. The wolf, a danger to sheep and others, has historically been considered in an overwhelmingly negative, sometimes even diabolical light. It is unpredictable; it attacks our settled way of life and our good intentions. As the famous Latin saying goes, “Homo homini lupus est” (Man is wolf to man), a phrase which reveals the aggressive and primarily hostile nature of man which lurks beneath the thin veneer of culture and polite behaviour. The animal which is inextricably linked to decadence, pleasure, excess and gluttony is the pig. In Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm, pigs are depicted as being most like man, both in their greed and their desire for power. The original slogan “all animals are equal” changes to “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.
Mgr. art. Katarína Balúnová, ArtD., exhibition curator
Curator: Mgr. art. Katarína Balúnová, ArtD. – GUS
Special assistance: Mgr. Lenka Králová – GUS
Graphic design: Mgr. art. Ivana Babejová, ArtD. – GUS
Translations: Gavin Cowper