In the works of Lin May Saeed (1973, Würzburg-2023, Berlin), the life of animals and the relationship between animals and humans are central themes. With a consistent formal language, a great deal of empathy, a broad cultural-historical knowledge of fairy tales and fables, and also with humour, the artist tells old and new stories of the subjugation and liberation of animals and their coexistence with humans. The sculptures, reliefs, metal works, expansive silhouettes and drawings of the German-Iraqi sculptor are a new visual language of solidarity and coexistence between species.
In her first solo museum exhibition in Germany, Lin May Saeed’s artistic works come together with works on loan to and collected by the Georg Kolbe Museum by Renée Sintenis (1888, Glatz-1965, West Berlin). Sintenis, a central figure of modern sculpture, was also searching for a way to explore and portray the relationship between animals and humans, when she celebrated her breakthrough in the 1920s with small-format animal sculptures. The most famous – the Berlin Bear – is still awarded annually as part of the Berlinale Film Festival. The cross-generational dialogue emerging at the Georg Kolbe Museum between these two artists traces not only formal developments in animal sculpture, but also examines the changes in society’s image of animals over the past 100 years. It also points to a new relevance in our perception and treatment of other living beings, such as the role of industrial animal husbandry in the context of the climate catastrophe. As they will have decayed, neither the bronze nor marble will bear witness to human creativity as sculptural materials in the distant future. Styrofoam, on the other hand, will forever remain intact. This is why Lin May Saeed chooses this petroleum-based, non-biodegradable plastic for her works. For her, it stands as a reminder of man’s impact on the environment. And so, Lin May Saeed’s art is constantly engaging in a political discourse in the context of the man-made age of the Anthropocene.
The exhibition shows sculptures made of Styrofoam, steel and bronze as well as silhouettes and drawings by both artists and is accompanied by a comprehensive educational and events programme on animality, animal ethics and animal rights.