In the Pupil of the Panther

11 September – 14 November 2021

Petrit Halilaj, Poisoned by men in need of some love (2013), installation view at Bundeskunsthalle Bonn. Credit: Simon Vogel / Cologne
Noor Abuarafeh, Joseph Beuys, Kristina Buch, Jimmie Durham, Petrit Halilaj, Henrik Håkansson, Christine Ödlund.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone

Rainer Maria Rilkes’s poem The Panther has been described as one of the first attempts to look at the world from the non-human perspective of the eyes of an animal. Is it possible to communicate with and understand other species? Or do we live in parallel worlds? The Baltic biologist Jakob von Uexküll (1864 – 1944) explored how different animals, including humans, experience their worlds with the senses with which they are equipped and he questioned whether it is at all possible for humans to understand any objective world beyond our perception.

The idea of humans as the crown of creation, separated and with the right to rule over (other) animals and Nature, has been increasingly criticised by science, philosophy and art. Today, many talk about humans as part of - and dependent on Nature, not least in light of the climate crisis. Already Carl von Linné argued that there are little differences between humans and primates, apart from speech. Research has also shown that non-human animals and even plants have much more sophisticated ways of communicating than previously thought. In the Pupil of the Panther is an exhibition that brings together artists who reflect on the relationship between human and none-human animals.

Curator: Magnus af Petersens