The Wondrous World of Behavioural Science

2001–2003 / Multimedia-Sculpture

The Wondrous World of Behavioural Science uses the topic of “homosexuality in the animal kingdom” to scrutinize constructs and notions of nature and gender. Embedded in a robust wooden sculpture evoking a mobile miniature natural history museum, this frequently neglected marginal issue claims a space that it otherwise does not occupy within the behavioural sciences.

Various media (i.e. slide projections, drawings, video, puzzles, animal models, etc.) are used to introduce selected animal species. An audio guide informs viewers about the homosexual behaviour of the various species presented, providing insight into the way this phenomenon has been treated and judged within the field of biology.

Each of the eight stations represents a paradigm shift, revealing the assessment mechanisms of the period. The first station begins with Aristotle, who was unable to identify female hyenas, due to the fact that all of the animals have a “penis”. Various interpretations follow, categorizing homosexual behaviour as abnormal deviations, dominance gestures, and altruistic strategies. The last station introduces the viewers to a female chimpanzee in the Amsterdam zoo, who was labelled as “lesbian” for advertising purposes. Nature as projection, construct and mirror of social values.

(Text: Julia Schmid, Rolf Bier, Marion Porten)

Voice over: Carolina Sauer
Language: German

Installation view: "Nach der Natur" / Kunstverein Wolfsburg / 2002 © Bernd Rodrian