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A Zoo in Vienna
Christoph Steinbrener and Rainer Dempf


Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna is host to a fascinating series of temporary art installations by Christoph Steinbrener and Rainer Dempf. In one animal enclosure, the German duo have half-submerged a car in a watering hole used by the resident rhinos. In another enclosure, penguins frolic in the shadow of an oil pump, and in yet another, alligators must share their modest bayou with a bathtub and a monster truck tire.

According to the artists, these scenes of ecological nightmares are “experimental set-up[s]” in which “the viewer is forced to reconsider traditional modes of animal presentation and simultaneously to question the authenticity of concepts which are restaging 'natural' environments while they are increasingly endangered.”

Christoph Steinbrener and Rainer Dempf


Quoting further: “Present-day conceptions of zoological gardens aim at the presentation of animals in an idyllic and apparently natural environment, untouched by civilization. But this is a contemporary conception, since courtly menageries and kennels were adapted to the exposure of animals as decorative objects. Until the early years of the 20th century, animals were part of a preferably spectacular and exotic staging, to the entertainment and amazement of the public. The artificial and the sensational were foregrounded, without creating a realistic setting of the natural environment of the animals.”

Christoph Steinbrener and Rainer Dempf


Christoph Steinbrener and Rainer Dempf


The installations will last until October 18, 2009.


Other Simulated Worlds
11 COMMENTS —
  • Anonymous
  • June 12, 2009 at 8:09:00 AM CDT
  • wow!


  • Georgia
  • June 12, 2009 at 12:40:00 PM CDT
  • The fish image is particularly disturbing.


  • Anonymous
  • June 12, 2009 at 7:54:00 PM CDT
  • I think the rhino looks unhappy. I understand the concept and I love this zoo very much. Not so keen on this installation though.


  • Anonymous
  • June 13, 2009 at 4:50:00 PM CDT
  • I think you're just projecting. If it were unhappy, it's more likely because of having been forcibly taken from its natural habitat and imprisoned in a closet. But I could be wrong. You're not projecting. Rather, what's being projected is the rhino's emotional state, destabilized from years of forced captivity, being unable to graze in the open with its own kind and constantly having to deal with pesky humans. Same with the other installations. But wait! I could be wrong yet again. I'm the one who's actually projecting! After all, the installations are all about the viewers and little about the animals themselves.


  • PrincessZelda
  • June 13, 2009 at 9:52:00 PM CDT
  • Disturbing in a good way.


  • Phreak 2.0
  • June 15, 2009 at 9:18:00 AM CDT
  • Hi, would you like to correct Christoph's and Rainer's Link to:
    http://www.steinbrener-dempf.com/


  • Anonymous
  • June 17, 2009 at 12:23:00 PM CDT
  • I kept expecting to see one where the animals are dead and/or disfigured -- the REPRESENTATIONS of the animals, of course.


  • Lucas Gray
  • June 27, 2009 at 10:53:00 AM CDT
  • This is a fantastic installation. First off it engages a public in a place that isn't expected. It really makes people think about multiple topics - the morals of zoos as well as how we are treating the natural environment. Showing off animals in captivity is already an artificial construct and adding in elements that are seemingly out of place makes this strikingly obvious. It also speaks to the utter waste dump we are treating our surroundings as.

    Good for them. I hope it upsets people and convinces even one person to change their habits.

    - Lucas Gray
    www.talkitect.com


  • Poom
  • July 1, 2009 at 2:57:00 AM CDT
  • I think that the artist is really smart about this particular project. He knows that a lot of people like to go to the zoo everyday and many of them are kids. When the kids get to see this kind of thing, they will then realise that throwing stuff away is just wrong. really creative


  • Anonymous
  • September 9, 2010 at 1:10:00 PM CDT
  • Total and utter rubbish. Continued exploitation of animals. Complete trash.


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