ich tier! (du mensch) – du tier! (ich mensch)

i animal! (you human) – you animal! (i human)

аз животно! (ти човек) – ти животно! (аз човек)

abrupt interspecies encounters


lin may

Lin May: Die Befreiung der Tiere aus den Käfigen IV, 2008

Die Befreiung der Tiere aus den Käfigen IV / Liberation Of The Animals From Their Cages IV, 2008
Silhouette / window hanging installation with transparent paper, roofing felt, backlit, 300 x 600cm

Lin May: ASYL - Die Befreiung der Tiere aus den Käfigen VI, 2008

ASYL - Die Befreiung der Tiere aus den Käfigen VI / ASYLUM - The Liberation Of Animals From Their Cages VI, 2008/2009

Relief, coated and painted styrofoam, steel, aluminium foil, wood sticks, 151 x 100 x 18 cm

Lin May: Erntedankrelief mit Affe, 2008

Erntedankrelief mit Affe / Harvest Festival Relief with Ape, 2008

Relief, coated and painted styrofoam, brass, transparent paper, jute, 252 x 176 x 36 cm

Lin May: Freier Markt, 2007

Freier Markt / Free Market, 2007

Silhouette / window hanging installation with transparent paper, roofing felt, backlit, 255 x 645cm

Lin May: Ankunft der Tiere I (E. Canetti gewidmet), 2009

Ankunft der Tiere I (E. Canetti gewidmet) / Arrival of Animals I (dedicated to E. Canetti), 2008

Acrylic on canvas, 70 x 100 cm

Lin May: Ankunft der Tiere II (E. Canetti gewidmet), 2009

Ankunft der Tiere II (E. Canetti gewidmet) / Arrival of Animals II (dedicated to E. Canetti), 2009

Acrylic on canvas, 70 x 100 cm

Lin May: Suq Al-Mansoor, 2008

Suq Al-Mansoor, 2008

Pencil on paper, 21 x 29,7 cm

Lin May: Invoice, 2009

Invoice, 2009

Drawing on inkjet print, 29,7 x 21 cm

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The Silence of the Animals

by Lin May

Different reasons could be imagined why an animal does not answer when it is asked a question. One is the rather esoteric sounding theory, which claims the animal remains silent because it is meditating. The meditation would be so deep that it cannot even be lifted when the animal dies a violent death. Its super-conscious is silent while its unconscious makes sounds, which are misunderstood as “unarticulated” and fill the space surrounding the animal and its adversary.

The other possibility would be that the animal can actually speak, though only very slowly. Ages can pass before an animal enunciated the sentence, “Please, don’t kill me!”, in an almost infinite expansion of syllables. Like someone writing his name on the surface of the moon. Depending on the particular species, this can take hundreds of thousands of years.

Das Schweigen der Tiere

von Lin May

Es sind verschiedene Gründe denkbar, warum ein Tier nicht antwortet, wenn ihm eine Frage gestellt wird. Zum einen gibt es die etwas esoterisch anmutende Theorie, der Zufolge das Tier schweigt, weil es meditiert. Diese Meditation wäre demnach so tief, dass sie auch dann unaufhebbar ist, wenn das Tier eines gewaltsamen Todes stirbt. Sein Bewusstsein schweigt, während sein Unterbewusstsein Laute von sich gibt, die als „nicht artikuliert“ missverstanden werden und den Raum füllen, der das Tier und seine Widersacher umgibt.

Die andere Möglichkeit wäre, dass das Tier tatsächlich sprechen kann, allerdings nur sehr langsam. Bis ein Tier den Satz ausgesprochen hat „Bitte, töte mich nicht !“ , vergehen Zeitalter, in einer fast unendlichen Ausdehnung von Silben. Als ob jemand seinen Namen auf die Oberfläche des Mondes schriebe. Entsprechend der jeweiligen Art kann dies hunderttausende Jahre andauern.

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Four fables

by Lin May

For a time man and ape were equal, until it occurred to the man to mount a horse and get it to run. The ape wanted to surpass him. He swung himself onto a giraffe’s back and clambered high up its neck as if it were a tree. When he got to the top and couldn’t get any further, he climbed back down and put the matter out of his head.


At night, a dog left its body, its cage, and the laboratory and went for a walk in the woods. There he met a wolf, who said: There is nothing new, thus one can only deal with what already exists. But then how do you think about what you do? asked the dog. Ironically, said the wolf. I understand, answered the dog, now I must take my leave. Tomorrow will be a long day and I must die. Just one thing more: I , too, have already seen everything, but it was so dark that I couldn't recognize anything.


Zenon called all people and animals to him and spoke:
No movement is possible, as I will prove in the following.

A                          C                          B

In order to get from A to B, I must first travel half of the distance lying between them. The point that marks one half of the distance I call C. In order to get to C, I must first travel one half of C, and also one half of that distance, and so on… The steps thus become smaller and smaller, as you see, and therefore it is not possible to get to B. Due to the non-existence of movement you all become sculptures.


Riding attempts with fatal outcome

Man on

  • >> Lion – Duration ca. 2 seconds.
  • >> Ostrich – throws man off at high speed. Man suffers a few small abrasions; resulting in infection with bird-flu virus > immune system collapses.
  • >> Stag – runs like lightning through the woods > man succeeds in holding on to the antlers and sitting more or less upright > stag runs under a branch, which hits human exactly in the head.
  • Variation: Stag lowers head at high speed and then comes to a sudden halt. Reciprocal penetration of man and antlers.

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Woman With Dog - Lin May at the Frankfurt Gallery Jacky Strenz

Good old Isaiah knew it all along: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” You can find this in the bible, in those books that for good reasons are called prophetic. Sure enough, when art takes hold of such things, what comes out of it is in the best case an image of utopia, if not, then picturesque kitsch. „Ankunft der Tiere” (Arrival Of The Animals), this the title of Lin May's second solo exhibition at the Frankfurt Gallery Jacky Strenz (at Kurt-Schumacher-Straße 2), does not dwell on such prophesies.

Its topic is on the contrary the Here and Now. In terms of its content however her art walks a thin line in between. We see giraffe, elephant and monkey under a picturesque rainbow; a man visibly enjoys smoking a cigarette, while the lamb accompanies this image of peace on the lute, and not least the human plays the heavenly harp in praise and glorification of the universe and Creation. Strong meat! But the master student of Tony Cragg is not that naïve, of course. Even if the artist, who was born 1973 in Würzburg, does not deny advocating a different relation between human and animal that can indeed be called Utopian in the face of realities, and thus also a different ethics. And titles like “The Liberation Of Animals From Their Cages,” entirely free of irony, speak for themselves.

Lin May however casually finds an artistic form to carry such grave issues with ease. Polyurethane foam, polyester wool and especially styrofoam are her consistently low-cost materials, from which she literally releases her pictures, compacting them to reliefs and finally coloring them, while her nonchalant recourse to the formal language of classic modernity, namely Picasso, Expressionism or also Chagall, may not only show an artistic kinship, but also the soft sense of humor of the artist, somewhat surprising in view of the topic.

This applies to her drawings just as it does to her sculptural works. And when, as is the case in her sculpture „Frau mit Hund” (Woman With Dog), a mysterious elegant lady takes her pet out, which looks as if it came directly from Giacometti's studio, she looks less like the personified guardian of her loyal friend, and with it of the wolf and lamb and calf and panther and the entire Creation, than rather its mistress who along with the pitiable animal takes art itself out on a leading-string. Looking closer however it seems unclear who is leading whom. And there may be a good reason for her to keep it on a short leash.

Text by: Christoph Schütte, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wednesday, 10 June 2009, No. 132, p. 44

Translation from German by code flow

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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 also 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.

L.M. 2010


Lin May, *1973 (DE / IQ) / Berlin, studies the history of human / animal/nature relations. In 2003 founded the exhibition space Center in Berlin - Tiergarten. She studied with Tony Cragg at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where she has held a teaching position in sculpture since 2008.