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.”
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 have created these installations as a reminder to us all - to take responsibility for our actions and the consequences they may have on nature.
These installations are very strong and have a great visual narrative without ever having to explain there existence.