Mai 36 Galerie presents the exhibition Kill Grill by German artist Jürgen Drescher. His fifth solo show in the gallery space shows new works by the artist, which deals with the complex and important topic of vegetarianism.
Our devastating impact is due to our sheer numbers (JD)
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Given the world’s explosive population growth, a radical reduction in our consumption of animal products is an effective way, and indeed perhaps the only way, of alleviating our impact on the planet. The fatal logic of mass animal husbandry is this: it takes sixteen thousand liters of water to produce just one kilo of meat and five kilos of animal fodder to produce just one kilo of pork, while each kilo of beef we produce results in the release of some 13.3 kilos of CO2.
Yet even the supposedly progressive thinkers of the art world love to flock to wherever there’s a juicy steak or “Zürcher Geschnetzeltes”. Ironically, meat represents indulging in pleasure, while avoiding it implies the opposite. Yet it should be quite easy to recognize the absurdity and rigidity of our own actions and to change our own dyed-in-the-wool routines by trying something new. Is it possible to tackle this conundrum with humor – starting with our own attitudes and eating habits?
The message that Jürgen Drescher conveys in his latest works is as uncomfortable as it is deliberately provocative. He uses puns and rhymes, pathos and sarcasm, to get that message across: “Kill Grill”, “Meat with your documenta curator”, “I survived the withdrawal of meat”, “Tier tear”… even the controversially outspoken Brigitte Bardot crops up. In her own words, “I gave my youth and beauty to men, but I give my wisdom and experience to animals”.
Although, at first glance, the text images may appear to be a new departure in this artist’s oeuvre, Jürgen Drescher has always, even in his earlier sculptures, addressed the vicious circle of overpopulation and our exploitation of resources – and, with that, the absurdly excessive urge of the human species to produce, consume and reproduce. Whereas provocation used to be more about highlighting media anachronisms through the creation of realistic animal sculptures, Drescher has turned instead to an in-your-face and thoroughly humorous approach that lays bare the paradox of how we consistently act against our very own interests.
Drescher now incorporates the ideas that have always underpinned his oeuvre, in the form of notes and drawings, directly into the works themselves – in all their spontaneity and sketchiness, but blown up to monumental proportions. These inconvenient truths are seductively packaged in a series of aesthetically pleasing ways and produced in series, in which the handwritten notes are scanned, variously filtered and hugely enlarged onto cotton fabric spanned on stretchers. Acrylic paints and inks are stenciled onto the fabric through nozzles normally used for spraying pesticides, while surface effects are created by polymer plaster.
“Tiere teilen” (Sharing Animals) – as long as they still exist. And then what? With his catchy images, Jürgen Drescher wants to make us more open to the world around us. Generating empathy with animals – which we are too – that we have, to a great extent, either extinguished or industrialized. Only 3% of terrestrial vertebrates today live in the wild. The rest are 65% farm animals and 32% humans. (Text: Eva Scharrer)
The observer needs bait to bite on. In order to be sensitized to pain and pleasure, and to come into direct contact with reality. (JD)
Jürgen Drescher (born 1955 in Karlsruhe) lives and works in Berlin.
 See also: „Avoiding meat and dairy is‚ single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth“, The Guardian, 31.5.2018. Online: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth