• 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
Amazon 'should not endanger diversity'
State minister for culture and media Monika Grütters. Photo: DPA

Amazon 'should not endanger diversity'

A German minister on Wednesday threw her weight behind the authors battling US online retail giant Amazon over its alleged strong-arm negotiating tactics with publishers. READ  

Opposition calls for arms export debate
Photo: DPA

Opposition calls for arms export debate

Green Party leader Katrin Göring-Eckhardt is calling for a special session of parliament following Wednesday's announcement that Germany will break its rules and deliver weapons to an active conflict zone. READ  

Families find solace and help with seniors
Photo: DPA

Families find solace and help with seniors

When Verena Herz found out she was pregnant with twins, she had no idea what she was in for. Luckily, she was able to borrow a grandmother. The Local learns the advantages of welcoming a new grandparent into the family and why Omas and Opas say: "I tell everybody about it!" READ  

Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech
Chancellor Angela Merkel opens the 2014 Lindau meetings. Photo: DPA

Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech

Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened an economics conference in Lindau, Bavaria, with a call for more regulation of so-called shadow banks. READ  

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure
A senior couple walk down Delmenhorst's main pedestrian promenade, amid a string of empty shops. Photo: Tomas Urbina

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure

Home to two-thirds of Germany's population, many of its small cities and towns are struggling to revive their declining centres. The Local's Tomas Urbina reports from Delmenhorst in Lower Saxony, as it tries to dig its way out of the economic doldrums. READ  

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver
Signs warning drivers against entering a motorway off-road. Photo: DPA

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver

Erich Mairleitner thought Tuesday would be another ordinary day hauling a load along the A3 motorway, but found himself the hero of the hour after stepping in to stop an accident. READ  

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds
Usula van der Leyen and Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds

Germany is ready to send weapons to support Iraqi Kurds in their battle against the "barbaric" jihadist militants of the Islamic State, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Wednesday. READ  

The Local List
10 things to do before summer is really over
Photo: DPA

10 things to do before summer is really over

The German weather service (DWD) is blaming "Wild Wilma" for blanketing the country in cooler temperatures, but we know it's going to get a lot colder before the end of summer. This week's Local List challenges you to take advantage before autumn really sets in. READ  

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors
Lightning illuminates the sky above a wind turbine. Photo: DPA

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors

The Federal Court of Auditors (BRH) has sharply criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel's energy policy, saying that the previous coalition government failed to produce adequate financial plans. READ  

China orders German's execution for murders
A paramilitary guard stands inside Beijing's No.1 Detention Centre. Photo: DPA

China orders German's execution for murders

Update: A German man has been condemned to death in China for murdering his ex-girlfriend and her partner in a frenzied attack, it was reported on Wednesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should.
Photo: DPA
National
Berlin's senate puts the brakes on Über
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: DPA
Culture
How I deal with my German Hausmeister
Photo: Ingrid Eulenfan/flickr
Gallery
Nine German treats you'll want to eat right now (and one you won't)
Photo: DPA
Society
Who's getting German citizenship?
Photo: DPA
Culture
How World War I changed Germany forever
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Photo: DPA
Society
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
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
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

3,347
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd