Chickenwings do not fall from the sky and hamburger patties do not grow on balconies! Industrial livestock farming and the modern meat industry have made us forget that for millenia mankind cultivated a close bond with farm and domestic animals – a unique symbiosis that helped secure human existence.
Upon entering the Pinakothek der Moderne in the following weeks, you will be welcomed in the circle of the rotunda by 36 European domestic and farm animals: diversity of a different kind. Be it cow, raven or dog, many of these animals have entered our cultural memory and are part of our stories, myths, and fairy tales.
With tongue-in-cheek, Walter Schels (*1936 Landshut/Bavaria) directs our attention to his beastly portraits. In frontal pose, these animals look at us as equals. It is the direct gaze of their eyes that establishes contact with their opposites – they look at us and we look back. Instantly, the roles of observer and observed are changed around and the animals become like us. Walter Schels describes his idea of successful portrait photography in these words: “Sometimes I photograph people until they are tired so that they give up their photo smile. This state of abandon is what I search for. In it, the truth of a face surfaces.”
In their entirety, Walter Schels’s comprehensive long-term projects are like a pictorial atlas. The universal he is in search of in his portraits, centers on the uniqueness and variety of man, animals, and plants in this world – an expedition to ever new continents the eighty-six-year-old artist is undertaking to this day.
I would be pleased if the Rotunda Project ǀ Part III of the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München, moves you, or provokes new thoughts in you, or makes you wonder and come back. I look forward to your visit!
Michael Hering, Director