• Germany edition
 
German of the Week
Why I'm butchering teddy bears
Artist Miroslav Menschenkind has created a range of mock-meat products by butchering children's toys. Photo: Miroslav Menschenkind

Why I'm butchering teddy bears

Published: 27 Mar 2014 16:12 GMT+01:00
Updated: 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 stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Alex Evans (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German hospitals ready for Ebola patients
Hamburg's UKE isolation ward is ready to take patients. Photo: DPA

German hospitals ready for Ebola patients

Germany's high-tech isolation wards remained on alert on Friday, ready to receive Ebola patients should they be required to. German airports seemed less prepared for the potential dangers of the viral epidemic, however. READ  

Two die in Bremen plane crash
The fire caused by the crash. Photo: DPA

Two die in Bremen plane crash

UPDATE: Two men died on Friday afternoon when a plane crashed in Bremen, causing a fire and a series of explosions in a warehouse near the city's airport. READ  

Merkel's party mutinies over tax cuts
Merkel in Münster last year at a meeting of her party's workers' wing. Photo: DPA

Merkel's party mutinies over tax cuts

Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a rebellion from within her own party on Friday after an unlikely coalition formed in favour of tax cuts for workers on lower incomes. READ  

Expat Dispatches
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Kleingärten in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

'Look at those German shanty towns!'

Visitors to Germany can sometimes be confused by the country's love of allotments in cities, known as a Kleingarten. Teacher and blogger Kathleen Ralf tells us what it's all about. READ  

Lightning rods further delay Berlin Airport
Closed until further notice: Berlin's troubled new airport. Photo: DPA

Lightning rods further delay Berlin Airport

Too few lightning rods and an undersized emergency generator have prevented part of Berlin's new airport from opening. Safety inspectors refused to sign off on the airport's north pier, thwarting progress on the massively delayed construction project. READ  

Two thirds of Berlin's tourist flats now illegal
Photo: DPA

Two thirds of Berlin's tourist flats now illegal

Two thirds of Berlin's 12,000 tourist apartments advertised on sites such as Airbnb were being run illegally from Friday following a law change, leaving hosts open to potential punishment. READ  

Lost goat halts Munich Airport trains
Fritzi underneath the train. Photo: Freiwillige Feuerwehr Unterschließheim/DPA

Lost goat halts Munich Airport trains

A lost pet goat called Fritzi halted trains to Munich Airport and had to be rescued from the tracks after suffering a concussion. READ  

Germany crowned U19 European Champions
Photo: EPA/Tibor Illyes HUNGARY OUT

Germany crowned U19 European Champions

Germany’s U19 football team added to a glorious summer of sport for the country by winning the European Championships in Budapest on Thursday night. READ  

World War I anniversary
100 years ago, Germans celebrated war's outbreak
August 1914. German soldiers march off to war in France. Photo: DPA

100 years ago, Germans celebrated war's outbreak

A hundred years ago on Friday Germany declared war on Russia and was preparing for an attack on France in the hope that Britain would stay neutral. Four years on, famine was ravaging the country and two million soldiers had been killed on the battlefield. READ  

Environment Agency urges fast fracking ban
Photo: DPA

Environment Agency urges fast fracking ban

Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is encouraging lawmakers to hurry up and ban fracking in all but name, saying the process is too dangerous to even consider allowing. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Society
Meet the man allowed to grow his own cannabis
Photo: DPA
Society
Your lottery numbers are 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Five reasons to visit Oktoberfest (and five not to)
Photo: DPA
Society
Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,290
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd