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For His Double Show in Berlin, Thomas Struth Portrayed Deceased Animals

  • Thomas Struth - GRACE-Follow-On Bottom View, IABG, Ottobrunn 2017
April 23, 2018
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

The way nature is being perceived is a current matter of global debate in the light of increasing climate changes which affect all the living life. It is a complex social and political problem, but without the doubt, the main suspects are no other than humans. Various plant and animal species suffer greatly to the point of extinction, so it is not strange that the wildlife has become yet another thing to be commodified.

With his latest project, which is going to be presented in two separate exhibitions in different space of the Galerie Max Hetzler, German photographer Thomas Struth questions the devastating effects of mentioned processes from a concise, yet poetical perspective.

Thomas Struth - Rotfuchs (Vulpes vulpes), Leibniz IZW, Berlin, 2017
Thomas Struth – Rotfuchs (Vulpes vulpes), Leibniz IZW, Berlin, 2017. Inkjet print, 90,5 x 112,1 cm. © Thomas Struth

The Distinct Photographic Practice

Active on the art scene since the mid-70s, Thomas Struth has built the particular style by focusing on almost geometrically precise composition. Such a decision was apparently an effect of the classes given by Bernd and Hilla Becher he used to attend.

During the course of time, the artist released his well-known family portraits (famous is the one of Gerhard Richter’s family), as well as photographic series on museums, his native city Düsseldorf, and the Big Apple e.g. New York.

Thomas Struth - Bergkänguru (Macropus robustus), Leibnitz IZW, Berlin, 2017
Thomas Struth – Bergkänguru (Macropus robustus), Leibnitz IZW, Berlin, 2017. Inkjet print, 142,0 x 177,7 cm. © Thomas Struth

On Animals And Labs

The latest series was made in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Zoological and Wildlife Research in Berlin, an institution specialized in evolutionary processes of animals, with a special focus on the environment modifications caused by humans. The natural death of animals is of great importance to the institute which has coincided with the Struth’s concept.

By posing the animal corpses in dignified and almost dreamy positions, the artist wanted to emphasize the other way of looking at the familiar species like kangaroos or foxes. These portraits are to be seen as reminiscent of the memento mori, a composition of great symbolical significance. In relation to the stated is the statement of Thomas Struth, which additionally lightens his concept:

I tried to depict the animals in a beautiful, dignified fashion. I’m interested in the idea of surrender: Once you die, all the circus that you proactively create, the theater, comes to a full stop. These pictures should be like punches, the memento of death as a wake-up call.

Opposed to the animals are the depictions of laboratory spaces, a motif already present in Struth’s work. The inaccessible spaces where latest experiments are taking place seem distant, sterile and even mysterious in regards to their function and meaning.

Thomas Struth - Laser Lab, Washington University, St. Louis, 2017
Thomas Struth – Laser Lab, Washington University, St. Louis, 2017. Inkjet print, 106,5 x 141,9 cm. © Thomas Struth

Thomas Struth at Galerie Max Hetzler

The contrast between the animals and the laboratories is actually reflecting the ambiguity related to the human inventions, scientific and technological progress. Therefore, from the documentary perspective, the artist is expressing his skepticism by articulating the matters of life and death, of progress and decay.

The exhibitions of the latest photographic series of Thomas Struth will take place simultaneously at Galerie Max Hetzler at Bleibtreustraße 45 and their temporary space at Kurfürstendamm 213. The openings are scheduled for 27 April, 6-9 pm, while the shows lasts until 2 June 2018, and they will be part of the program of this years edition of Gallery Weekend Berlin.

Featured image: Thomas Struth – GRACE-Follow-On Bottom View, IABG, Ottobrunn 2017. Inkjet print, 139,7 x 219,4 cm. © Thomas Struth. All images courtesy Galerie Max Hetzler