Hello to you all, how do you live?
We live in small groups, have no fixed partnerships.
Build widely branching tunnel systems,
in which our young are born, naked and blind.
We still reproduce when imprisoned.
I live solitary. Sleep in a shallow hollow.
My offspring are born with fur and open eyes.
I have never been domesticated.
We don’t quite know.
Until we have found out, we wage wars.
Lin May Saeed ( DE /IQ )
*1973 in Würzburg, DE
1995-2001 Kunstakademie Düsseldorf
2003 founding of exhibitionspace
†2023 in Berlin, DE
2000 Scholarship Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, DE
2006 Scholarship for Sculpture Gasmesserhaus, Zürich-Schlieren, CH
2011 Peter Mertes Stipendium des Bonner Kunstvereins
Guest artist at Malerei Klasse
Prof. Gunter Reski
HfG Offenbach, DE
November 29-30, 2018
Guest artist at the peinture departement
Prof. Emmanuelle Castellan
ISDAT Art Academy Toulouse, FR
Nov 29-30, 2016
Lecture and Visiting Artist
at The Art Institute Chicago (SAIC)
Monday, October 1, 2015
Talk at HBK Braunschweig
Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig)
Kunstakademie Düsseldorf 2008/09 – 2009/10
This website is about the history of the coexistence of humans and animals on this earth, from the time in which humans and animals parted company. Regarding contemporary times, Jacques Derrida spoke of an „unprecedented subjugation of animals“. However, nor were human-animal relations ever balanced at any earlier point in time.
Riding attempts with fatal outcome
>> Lion – duration appr. 2 seconds
>> Ostrich – throws man off at high speed. Man suffers a few small abrasions; resulting in infection with the bird flu virus > immune system collapses.
>> Stag – runs like lightning through the woods > man succeeds in holding on to the antlers, sitting more or less upright > stag runs under a branch, which hits man exactly in the head.
Variation: Stag lowers head at high speed, and then comes to a sudden halt. Reciprocal penetration of man and antlers.
Since around the mid 70s, the idea of animal rights / animal liberation has formulated a fundamental civilisation critique, the logic of which calls into question the whole of cultural history. The logic of which calls for a new interpretation of cultural history regarding the power relationships of humans and animals. Under this aspect, the call of „back to nature“, familiar from environmental movements, is also obsolete. There is no way back. The objective is to develop a world, in which humans and animals can live peacefully with each other, beyond historical experiences. The question is where our path is leading to since we removed ourselves from animals. Even what is probably our oldest story, the epic of Gilgamesh, is about the discord between humans and nature.
Excerpt from the english translation of the 1st tablet of Gilgamesh Epic
The goddess Aruru, she washed her hands,
took a pinch of clay, threw it down in the wild.
In the wild she created Enkidu, the hero,
offspring of silence, knit strong by Ninurta.
All his body is matted with hair,
he bears long tresses like those of a woman:
the hair of his head grows thickly as barley,
he knows not a people, not even a country.
Coated in hair like the god of the animals,
with the gazelles he grazes on grasses,
joining the throng with the game at the water-hole,
his heart delighting with the beasts in the water.
A hunter, a trapper-man,
did come upon him by the water-hole.
One day, a second and then a third,
he came upon him by the water-hole.
When the hunter saw him, his expression froze,
but he with his herds, he went back to his lair.
[ The hunter was ] troubled, subdued and silent,
his mood [ was despondent , ] his features gloomy.
In his heart there was sorrow,
his face resembled [ one come from ] afar.
The hunter opened [ his mouth ] to speak, saying [ to his father :]
‚My father , there was a man came [ by the water-hole. ]
Mightiest in the land, strength [he possesses ,]
[his strength] is as mighty [as a rock] from the sky.
‚Over the hills he [ roams all day,]
[ always] with the herd [ he grazes on grasses, ]
always his tracks [ are found ] by the water-hole,
I am afraid and i dare not approach him.
‚[ He fills in the ] pits that i [myself] dig,
[ he pulls up] the snares that i lay.
[ He sets free from my grasp ] all the beasts of the field,
[ he stops ] me doing the work of the wild.
[ His father opened his mouth to ] speak, saying to the hunter:
‚ [My son , in the city of ] Uruk [ go,seek out ] Gilgamesh!
………………….. in his presence,
his strength is as mighty ‚ [ as a rock from the sky.]
‚ [ Take the road, ] set your face [ toward Uruk, ]
[ do not rely on] the strength of a man !
[ Go my son, and ] fetch [ Shamhat the harlot, ]
[ her allure is a match ] for even the mighty !
‚ [ When the herd comes ] down [to] the water-hole,
[ she should strip off ] her [ raiment to reveal ] her charms.
[ He will ] see her and will approach her,
his herd will spurn him , [ though he grew up ] amongst it ‚
[ Paying heed ] to the advice of his father,
the hunter went off, [ set out on the journey.]
He took the road, set [ his face] toward Uruk,
before Gilgamesh the king [ he spoke these words:]
‚ There was a man [came by the water-hole,]
mightiest in the land, strength [ he possesses ,]
[ his strenghth] is as mighty as a rock from the sky.
‚Over the hills he roams all [ day, ]
always with the herd [ he grazes on grasse, ]
always his tracks [ are found ] by the water-[ hole, ]
I am afraid and i dare not approach [ him .]
‚ He fills in the pits that i [ myself ] dig,
he pulls up the snares [ that i lay .]
He sets free from my grasp all the beasts of the field,
he stopps me doing the work of the wild.‘
Said Gilgamesh to him, to the hunter:
‚ Go, hunter , take with you Shamhat the harlot!
‚When the herd comes down to the water-hole,
she should strip off her raiment to reveal her charms.
He will see her , and will approach her,
his herd will spurn him , though he grew up amongst it. ‚
Off went the hunter, taking Shamhat the harlot,
they set out on the road, they started the journey.
On the third day they came to their destination,
hunter and harlot sat down there to wait.
One day and a second they waited by the water-hole,
then the herd came down to drink the water.
The game arrived, their hearts delighting in water,
and Enkidu also, born in the uplands.
With the gazelles he grazed on grasses,
joining the throng with the game at the water-hole,
his heart delighting with the beasts in the water:
then Shamhat saw him, the child of nature,
the savage man from the midst of the wild.
‚This is he, Shamhat ! Uncradle your bosom,
bare your sex, let him take in your charms!
Do not recoil, but take in his scent:
he will see you, and will approach you.
‚Spread your clothing so he may lie on you,
do for the man the work of a woman!
Let his passion caress and embrace you,
his herd will spurn him, though he grew up amongst it. ‚
Shamhat unfastened the cloth of her loins,
she bared her sex and he took in her charms.
She did not recoil, she took in his scent:
she spread her clothing and he lay upon her.
She did for the man the work of a woman,
his passion caressed and embraced her.
For six days and seven nights
Enkidu was erect, as he coupled with Shamhat.
When with her delights he was fully sated,
he turned his gaze to his herd.
The gazelles saw Enkidu, they started to run,
the beasts of the field shied away from his presence.
Enkidu had defiled his body so pure,
his legs stood still, though his herd was in motion.
Enkidu was weakened could not run as before,
but now he had reason, and wide understanding.
He came back and sat on the feet of the harlot,
watching the harlot, observing her features.
Then to the harlot´s words he listened intently,
[ as Shamhat ] talked to him, to Enkidu:
‚You are handsome, Enkidu, you are just like a god!
Why with the beasts do you wander the wild ?
Come, i will take you to Uruk-the-Sheepfold,
to the sacred temple, home of Anu and Ishtar,
‚where Gilgamesh is perfect in strength,
like a wild bull lording it over the menfolk. ‚
So she spoke to him and her word found favour,
he knew by instinct, he should seek a friend.
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Pp. 5-8, Line 101 ff.
Introduction and new translation by Andrew George
Penguin Classics,Revised edition, 2003
On the ‚Soma‘ exhibition
by Carsten Höller
at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
(5th November 2010 – 6th February 2011)
Animals have a right to life, freedom and integrity. There is no justification for keeping animals imprisoned. Not for animal experimentation, and not for food in either intensive or so-called species – appropriate farming. Only freedom can be species – appropriate. The ‚Soma‘ exhibition by Carsten Höller shows a pointless animal experiment in the museum Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. Berlin is already the capital of animal experiments. In no other city in Germany are so many experiments performed on animals. The assumption that art operates in a moral and social vacuum, is snobbish. There is no justification for structural violence against animals through L’art pour l’art, especially not through art which boarders on science. The animal is the unreachable. Animals must be liberated.
Human Animal – Derrida, Agamben, Coetee and the unexpected return of the creature
By Ullrich Raulff
All his life, the author dreamt of an animals‘ revolt. As if he came from the realms of an „inverted world“, he conceived an overthrow of the archaic order, which had placed humankind as lord over the life and death of animals. And yet he knew that the day of justified rage would not come: „It hurts me that it will never come to an uprising of the animals against us, the patient animals, the sheep, all creatures that are at our mercy and can not escape.“ Still, Canetti imagined with relish how a rebellion arising from a slaughterhouse cascaded over a city; how men, woman, children and the elderly were trampled to death; metro carriages flattened by raging oxen and people mauled by sheep with blood lust. Till this day no such overthrow has occurred. Even if, in the hay day of BSE, it looked as though this were the substitute for the revolt of tormented nature, her long march, as it were, through the institutions of food – the uprising of the animals remains to! be seen. In the meantime, something else is happening: a return of animals in human thought, an intellectual revolt in the name of animals.
Ambitious art journals, such as frame produce special issues („The Dog Issue“), a popular magazine like Brigitte has had prominent authors write about animals. In the year 2000 the City Gallery of Karlsruhe showed the exhibition „Challenge: Animal. From Beuys to Kabakov“, 2001 „The Animal in Me“ could be viewed at Baden-Baden, in a few weeks the Dresden Hygiene museum will open an exhibition on the subject of „Human and Animal“.
The picture is similar in literature and philosophy: following the German translation of J.M.Coetzee’s „The Lives of Animals'“ (2000) came Hans Blumberg’s „Lions“, Hans Wollschläger’s „Animals Watch You“ and Elias Canetti’s essays „On Animals“. It is known that Jaques Derrida has long been working on a book about the difference between humans and animals; the German translation of Giorgio Agamben’s most recent essay, „L´aperto. L´uomo et l´animale“ has been announced for next year. One of this autumn’s most important new releases was the book by the Leipzig anthropologist Michael Tomasello about the learning behaviour of chimpanzee and human children.
Stale. That is how the techno futurism suddenly seemed, which yesterday tried to persuade us that humanity’s future lay in the company of cyborgs and replicates. The future of humanity? Does not live here anymore. More recently humanism has discovered a new field – in the carriers of livestock transporters, behind the bars of zoology research stations, at the exits of paradise. But was does that mean: new field? In truth it is one of the oldest. Whenever „western man“ has searched for an answer to the Sphinx, he has turned to brother animal: Who are you, and who am I? From Aristotle through Descartes to Heidegger, the way to the human seemed to be via the division from the animal. The zoon politikon, the animale rationale, the animal that can laugh, do politics, exterminate its own, and reflect upon itself, assert its specific difference. On the other hand, whenever the humanism of the West hits choppy waters, the figure of the animal emerges on the horizon as enticement, threat or promise. Was it coincidence that Friedrich Nietzsche, overcome by sympathy, broke down, embracing an abused animal? If humanism’s first word is separation from the animal, its last is brotherly identification. And perhaps it is this ability to empathise – as the innermost core of the humane – which is now in question and places the animal before us anew as the final puzzle and question.
For the philosophical anthropology of the twentieth century, there was never a doubt that the difference between human and animal had to be more than a minor evolutionary advancement, a comparative intelligence or a superior technical competence. But wherein did this singular quality lie? In his most recent essay, „L’aperto“, the Italian philosopher, Giorgo Agamben, traces Martin Heidegger’s train of thought, upon which he had embarked in the winter semester or 1929/30 in one of his most important lectures. For Heidegger, the animal was poor in world (weltarm), the human, world-forming (weltbildend). The animal, says Heidegger, alluding to Uexküll, lives imprisoned in its disinhibinting ring (Enthemmungsring) – a cycle of needs and environmental excitations, in which it is captivated (benommen). The animal’s environment may be „open“, but it is not evident, as it is to the unveiling world of existence Dasein.
Most original in this thought, as despotic as it is nit picking, is its terminology. As far as contents are concerned, Helmuth Plessner, who wrote about „Animal and Human“ (sic!) only a few years later, was clearer. Plessner uses the human „mind“ (as opposed to „intelligence“, which animals also have) as the supreme criteria: the basic principle governing the animal is security in its environment. In the human, the closeness of the vital circle opens – the other as the other. This is also a telling difference between the two thinkers: for Plessner it is love, which opens up a world for humans beyond eating and sleeping – for Heidegger it is boredom. In boredom, the Dasein (existence) notices its „captivation“, and through this, overcomes it. But whether one defines the difference between animals and humans according to idealistically (spirit/mind) or existentialist-ontologically (Dasein), the number of people who regard all this focus on terminology a! s false and suspect the predator, man, behind it is growing. In the novel „The Lives of Animals“, J.M.Coetzee has one of his narrators voice the suspicion that „all this discussion of consciousness and whether animals have it is just a smokescreen. At bottom we protect our own kind. Thumbs up to human babies, thumbs down to veal calves.“
The distinctions of philosophy as a license to kill? Only the comparison made in the same novel by the main figure, a wilful old writer, is considered to be truly obscene. She compares industrial slaughter, the mass murder of animals, with the Nazi murder of Jews. She can, she says, no longer comprehend how all the nice people around her can continue to eat corpses and exhibit fragments of corpses: ‚It is as if I were to visit friends, and to make some polite remark about the lamp in their living room, and they were to say, „Yes, it’s nice, isn’t it? Polish-Jewish skin it’s made of, we find that’s the best, the skins of young Polish-Jewish virgins. ‚“
A cynical point, a brutal punch line. How a historical argument can be developed from this, may be seen in the recently published book by the historian, Charles Patterson, going by the title of „Eternal Treblinka. Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust“. Patterson relocates the birth of the Holocaust to the slaughterhouses of Chicago. In his worst chapter, („Killing Centers in America and Germany“), he cuts, as in a film, the most brutal slaughterhouse images against the most awful scenes from the murder of the Jews. He (knowingly) risks a new animal form of historical revisionism. This time it isn’t the Bolsheviks who started it all, as with Ernst Nolte, but the Americans, who mechanised killing with their slaughterhouses, thereby providing the Nazis with a role model for their extermination machines. One has to ask whether the author is not using the murder of the Jews primarily to scandalise the crimes against animals – with a sure grasp at historical ! superlative. After all he can cite a prominent referee: the Nobel Prize winner, Isaac Bashevis Singer. All of Singer’s characters thought like Herman Broder, the hero of the story „Enemies“, who felt zoos to be another type of concentration camp and could not rid himself of the idea that „in their behaviour toward creatures, all men were Nazis“. It was also Singer, the author who loved animals, who coined the phrase, „for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka“. It seems as though this comparison today sets the point of origin for humanism discourse. Yet not all authors are prepared to stay at this point. Giogio Agamben, for example, like Adorno before him, sees the dangers that lie in accepting the Holocaust as the final word in history. He writes in „L’aperto“ that one would completely misconceive the +totalitarian experiences of the twentieth century if one only considered them under consideration of nationalism and imperialism. Today another, more extreme political exercise is at stake: the fact of the biological or „naked“ life of peoples. Seen in this way, nationalism was not the terminus, rather one course for the bio-political experiments of the twenty first century or, in Agamben’s words, „for the integral management/cultivation of biological life, and that means the animality of humans.“
Jacques Derrida also sees (in L’Animal que donc je suis“) an unprecedented subjugation of the animal“ as the mark of a worsening history of „coexistence“: „All the world knows what an unbearable picture of terror a realistic painting could create out of the industrial, chemical, hormonal, gene- technical violence that the animal has had to take from humans for the past two centuries.“ For Derrida, the question is not whether this was genocide or not. Certainly, he says, there is an animal genocide: („The number of species that are disappearing at the hands of humans takes one’s breath away.“) But how is it possible, Derrida asks, that humans keep the suffering that they cause to those they see as animals so completely covered and hidden: „For that, which has bee happening for two centuries is a new type of examination, a test of sympathy.“
From Aristotles to Heidegger, talk about animals had always circled around have and can, around the possession of sense and the ability to use techniques. Jeremy Bentham first asked the deciding and acceptable question: Can they suffer? In this question, according to Derrida, is the most radical way of thinking about the finality and mortality that humans share with animals. In the worsening relationship to animals over the past two hundred years, the watermark of a war has become visible; a war that has raged over sympathy. Without a doubt, this war is ageless, but it has arrived at a critical phase and we with it.“
No one knows what the outcome of this critical phase will be. The management of the naked, animalistic lives of humans – and animal populations? The undeclared war at the core of civilisation, which calls itself human, continues. The animals‘ revolt remains postponed. Nor is a revolt of humans for their animalistic nature in sight.
Ulrich Raulff (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 26.10.2002
and Texte zur Kunst, p.136-139, issue no.50,2003)
One could go so far as to call humanity the species that failed in its being and remaining an animal. (…) Cultural historians have recognised that with becoming sedentary, the relations between man and animal also came to a new aspect. With the taming of humans by houses, a new epoch of the pet began. Their binding to the human’s houses is not just about taming, but also training and breeding.
Man and his pets – the story of this incredible cohabitation has not yet been adequately depicted; much less have philosophers to this day wanted to believe what they should be doing right in the middle of this story (…)
Peter Sloterdijk, „Regeln für den Menschenpark“, p.48 ff.,
Suhrkamp Verlag, 1999
Speaking Beyond Language
Bomb Magazine, by Osman Can Yerebakan
February 11, 2021
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, by Christoph Schütte
5. August 2021
Stories We Missed in 2020: Lin May Saeed’s Nonhuman Animals
Frieze, by Terence Trouillot
Dec 17, 2020
Drawing to a close: Lin Saeed’s must-see ‚Arrival of the Animals‘
The Williams Record, by Erin Barry
October 21, 2020
Lin May Saeed at The Clark
Contemporary Art Daily
October 14th, 2020
The Art of Animal Liberation
Art in America, by Emily Watlington
October 6, 2020
Alla scoperta di antichi palazzi che ospitano banche e fondazioni
Palazzo Vitale a Cuneo, IT
Acquisitions of Fondazione CRC
La Stampa, by Lorenzo Boratto
October 04, 2020
Lin May Saeed: Arrival of the Animals
Brooklyn Rail, by Holly Bushman
Aug 15, 2020
What if humans weren’t the center of every narrative, but instead animals were?
The Berkshire Eagle, by Jennifer Huberdeau
Aug 7, 2020
Animals humans in Saeed exhibit at Clark
Times Union, by William Jaeger
Aug. 3, 2020
Lin May Saeed’s Styrofoam Animals Exemplify Beautiful Reuse
The Observer, by David D´Arcy
July 29, 2020
At the Clark, an artist’s irresistible vision of interspecies harmony
The Boston Globe, by Murray Whyte
July 23, 2020
„Lin May Saeed & Max Brand @ What Pipeline
journal_fyi, by Christopher Michael
October 15, 2019
„Warning: Fragile? The Artists Tearing Up Polystyrene
Elephant Magazine, by Louise Benson
August 10, 2019
„33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, Slovenia
Art Agenda Reviews, by Tom Jeffreys
July 19th, 2019
„Lin-May Saeed at Jacky Strenz
Critic´s picks, by Emily Watlington
May 27, 2019, ARTFORUM
„Lin-May Saeed at Jacky Strenz, Frankfurt
July 13th, 2019
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
„Lin May Saeed at Jacky Strenz
Contemporary Art Daily 06/2019
June 26th, 2019
„Lin May Saeed at Studio Voltaire 2018
Gilda Williams, ARTFORUM (Nov 2018 issue and online)
Biene – Lin May Saeed 2018 – Studio Voltaire
Cleo Roberts, Art Asia Pacific Magazine, online
Lin May Saeed at Contemporary Art Daily
August 18, 2018
That Summer Feeling: Eight Unmissable London Shows
Elephant Magazine – online
by Louise Benson
July 28, 2018
Lin May Saeed at Studio Voltaire, London
by Karim Crippa, Exhibitionary
Lin May Saeed – Bees
by Julie Anderson, The Story Bazar
June 30, 2018
„Lin May Saeed´s Slow Burn“
by Chris Sharp in Mousse Magazine April/May 2018, #63
download pdf of print version
link to text at Mousse online
„Lin May Saeed at LULU Mexico City 2017“
Owen Duffy , FRIEZE (Jan 2018 and online)
Nov 25, 2017
„Lin May Saeed at LULU Mexico City 2017“
Contemporary Art Daily 11/2017
November 13th, 2017
„Lin May Saeed at LULU Mexico City 2017“
Magali Arriola, FRIEZE online
Oct 24, 2017
„The World Without Us“
by Alex Jovanovich, Artforum
August 11, 2017
„Lin May Saeed at Nicolas Krupp“
Aoife Rosenmeyer, „Art in America“
Dec 12, 2016
„Lin May Saeed at Nicolas Krupp 2016“
Contemporary Art Daily 11/2016
November 2nd, 2016
„Lin May Saeed at Jacky Strenz 2016“
Contemporary Art Daily 04/2016
April 4th, 2016
„Contributors picks at Art Space“
by Forrest Nash
Nov. 23, 2015
„Lin May Saeed at Julius Caesar Chicago 2015“
Contemporary Art Daily 11/2015
November 20th, 2015
„Lin May Saeed at Thomas Flor 2014“
Contemporary Art Daily 11/2014
November 13th, 2014
„Lin May Saeed at Jacky Strenz 2013/14“
Contemporary Art Daily 01/2014
January 8th, 2014
Radio Portrait on Lin May
WDR5, 10.41 min (german language)
December 18th 2013
„Auf Wagner Pfeifen“
Christoph Schütte, FAZ
Rhein-Main Kultur, 19.10.2013
„Lin May at Jacky Strenz“
Contemporary Art Daily 10/2013
October 14th, 2013
„Lin May at Bonner Kunstverein 2012“
Contemporary Art Daily 05/2012
„Die Kunst und das liebe Geld“
Berliner Zeitung, 25.1.2011
„Altarbilder unserer Zeit“
Swantje Karich, FAZ
„Lin May at Thomas Flor 2010“
Contemporary Art Daily 12/2010
December 20th, 2010
„Lin May and Jens Ulrich at Jacky Strenz 2010“
Contemporary Art Daily 02/2010
February 23rd, 2010
„Lin May at Jacky Strenz“
Contemporary Art Daily 07/2009
July 28th, 2009
„Frau mit Hund“
Christoph Schütte, FAZ
Rhein-Main Kultur, 10.6.2009
„Beziehungen zwischen Mensch und Tier“
Fenja Braster, Interview mit Lin May Saeed, 25.3.2006
Terz, Autonome Stadtzeitung Düsseldorf
Ulrike von Götz, 4.9.2005
Welt am Sonntag
„Materielle Rätsel der Gegenwart“
Wiebke Hüster, FAZ
„Recipes from Iraq“
Vegane Rezepte aus dem Irak
mit Texten von Abbas Khider, Melanie Bujok und Lin May Saeed
Publikation für Peter Mertens Stipendium 2011
erhältlich über Bonner Kunstverein
„Ein Neger mit Gazelle“ von Lin May Saeed“
Edited by. Uta Grosenick, 2004, Revolver Frankfurt /Main
„The Epic of Gilgamesh“
1999 /2003. Retranslated by Andrew R.George,
Penguin Books Ltd., London
„Das steinerne Herz der Unendlichkeit erweichen“,
2007, Hrsg. Susann Witt-Stahl, Alibri Verlag, Aschaffenburg
„Dem blutigen Zweck der Herrschaft ist die Kreatur nur Material“
2007 , Hrsg. TAN, Hamburg
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