• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Why I'm butchering teddy bears

Alex Evans · 27 Mar 2014, 16:12

Published: 27 Mar 2014 16:12 GMT+01:00

Demonstrations against animal slaughter are often striking salvos of gory slaughterhouse photos, meant to shock people with the "reality" of the meat industry.

But Menschenkind's exhibition at Hamburg's Xpon art gallery demonstrates a subtler, if strangely macabre, way to raise awareness of meat production.

The 37-year-old's exhibit – entitled "Mensch & Kind. Cuddly Toy-Butchery since 1886" – features children's stuffed toys, authentically butchered by Menschenkind in various traditional methods taught him by his grandfather.

"My grandfather was a master butcher, so I was able to use some of his tools," the artist and photographer told The Local.

"At the beginning I just removed the teddies' heads and hung them on hooks," he said. "Then I began making sausages out of the heads' filling."

Menschenkind said one of the main inspirations for the exhibit was his life as a vegetarian.

And it claims to be "since 1886" because the Xpon gallery's venue, Hamburg's historic "Münzburg" apartment building, was originally home to a butcher's shop when it opened in 1886.

Menschenkind's exhibit is laid out like a real butcher's counter, with his fluffy and oddly gruesome wares arrayed behind, including a row of eyeless Teletubbies, hanging by their feet from meat hooks.

CLICK HERE to see some of Menschenkind's strange creations

"Big ones get special treatment – sometimes I take off the stomach covering and let the innards spill out, sometimes a whole teddy gets sliced in half," Menschenkind explained.

Even the toy dog he played with as a child has gone into the meat-grinder in the name of his art.

The selection of ground-up, cut-up and even vacuum-packed children's toys was not art in the classical sense, he said. "It's much more the art of starting up a dialogue."

And such a dialogue would aim to make us more conscious of our interactions with meat. "The hope is that people start to really think about it and be more aware as they go through life,” Menschenkind said.

Unsurprisingly, visitors were initially knocked for six by the artist’s butchered toys, but people quickly caught on and appreciated the message, he said.

"As soon as they started to discuss it with each other they understood and became keen. I have had a lot of praise and encouragement.

"This media attention shows I've obviously touched exactly the right nerve."

And children have not been the least bit scared by his work, he claimed.

"The children who've come to the exhibition have all been enthusiastic," the artist said. "A teddy losing its head is probably a daily occurrence in kids' bedrooms."

Menschenkind added he thought adults worried about kids being disturbed by his toys were overreacting.

"Children don't think about things in such a complex way as adults, they don't draw any parallels," he said.

SEE ALSO: German cheap meat diet proves risky

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Evans (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The Local List
7 songs to make your German lover swoon on Valentine's
Helene Fischer. Photo: DPA

7 songs to make your German lover swoon on Valentine's
59 minutes ago

Germans aren’t known as an overly emotional bunch. But they’ve still created some of the most powerful ballads of all time - these seven are guaranteed to melt even the hardest Teuton heart.

Grow a thicker skin, Germany tells Poland
The carnival float was placed on display in Düsseldorf despite the parade being cancelled due to high winds. Photo: DPA

Grow a thicker skin, Germany tells Poland
1 hour ago

The German government reminded Poland on Wednesday that it doesn't control political speech within its borders, after Warsaw complained about a Düsseldorf carnival float which mocked the leader of its governing party.

Deutsche Bank stock price crash
Five reasons why Germany is worried about Deutsche Bank
File photo: DPA

Five reasons why Germany is worried about Deutsche Bank
5 hours ago

Since the beginning of 2016, Deutsche Bank – Germany's biggest lender – has lost 40 percent of its value on the stock market. What's got investors so spooked?

Cologne locals take refugees under their wing for Karneval
A charity-hosted "Karneval for Beginners" class for refugees in Cologne. Photo: DPA.

Cologne locals take refugees under their wing for Karneval
5 hours ago

Reactions to the New Year sexual assaults in Cologne have been strong, occasionally involving violence against refugees. But some Cologne locals decided to take immigrants under their wing for the city's biggest party.

Germany puts two SS men on trial over Auschwitz killings
Auschwitz. Photo: DPA

Germany puts two SS men on trial over Auschwitz killings
6 hours ago

Two former SS men will go on trial this month for their alleged complicity in the murder of thousands of people at Auschwitz, as Germany accelerates its bid to prosecute ageing Third Reich criminals.

Four arrested after grenade thrown at refugee home
A senior detective displays models of the M26 grenades, made in former Yugoslavia, used in the attack. Photo: DPA

Four arrested after grenade thrown at refugee home
7 hours ago

Police arrested four men in southwest Germany late on Tuesday for throwing a hand grenade at a refugee home.

Bavaria train crash
All missing accounted for in Bavaria crash
Rescue workers stand in front of one of the wrecked train wagons on Tuesday evening. Photo: DPA

All missing accounted for in Bavaria crash
7 hours ago

Police said on Wednesday morning that they were not expecting to find any further victims of Tuesday's train crash southeast of Munich, denying reports of an eleventh body found.

Bavaria train crash: what we know so far
The scene at the site of the crash was one of total devastation. Photo: DPA

Bavaria train crash: what we know so far
8 hours ago

Check here for a quick overview of all the latest information on the train accident in Bad Aibling, Bavaria on Tuesday morning.

As it happened: Bavaria train crash
An aerial shot shows the extent of the devastation at the crash site, where two trains ran into one another head-on on a single-track rail line just outside Bad Aibling. Photo: DPA

As it happened: Bavaria train crash
22 hours ago

Two trains collided early on Tuesday morning in southern Germany, derailing carriages and killing nine passengers and injuring around 80 others.

Moscow tells Merkel to watch her mouth on Syria
Syrian refugees at the border to Turkey in late January. Photo: DPA

Moscow tells Merkel to watch her mouth on Syria
1 day ago

The Kremlin on Tuesday issued a rare rebuke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel a day after she criticised Russian air strikes in Syria.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
National
What we know so far about the Bavaria train crash
Culture
10 essential words you'll need when visiting Cologne carnival
Technology
Army presents new camo pattern that can fool night vision goggles
Health
Disabled people explain what life is like for them in Germany
International
How to vote in the US election when you live abroad
Business & Money
The small town planning to get rid of small change
National
Top five inventions of Germany's 'patent king'
National
Pensioner crushed in hospital machine
Politics
Could Bernie Sanders get elected in Germany?
Society
Most German conservatives back gay marriage: poll
Politics
'Russia aims to weaken the EU. The refugee crisis is an opportunity.'
Gallery
Eight wonders of the world's biggest toy fair in Nuremberg
National
Islamists and Neo-Nazis both ready for violence, say spies
Frankfurt
Drunk-driving cop tries to escape through toilet window
Berlin
How Berlin Bowie fans paid tribute with art on ice
Police fight rumours they've been hiding truth on refugees
Berlin
Brave passengers grab man accused of shoving woman under train
National
Software bug means German jets can't fly at night
Rhineland
First suspects arrested after Cologne sexual assaults
Politics
Berlin to North Africa: take deportees or give up aid cash
Lifestyle
10 ways German inventors have made the world a better place
7,010
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd