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Monday, June 17, 2024

The Lives of Animals. Group exhibition – MUHKA Antwerp | 08.06.-22.09.2024

Editors’ Choice

The M HKA started the Summer season with the group exhibition The Lives of Animals from 8. June 2024. What is an animal? And can we humans make friends with animals? These questions are central to the group exhibition The Lives of Animals at the M HKA this summer.

Image above: Lin May Saeed. The Liberation of Animals from their Cages XVI,
Courtesy M HKA

In The Lives of Animals, M HKA combines literature, philosophy and art with conventional ideas about their background. We are going to be able to see how we would like to see these things differently: can we still see how they look at our animals?

The opening work The Liberation of Animals from their Cages XVI (2014) is that of artist Lin May Saeed (1973-2023), who devoted her artistic practice entirely to themes of animal liberation, domestication and coexistence. Her work, which explores the complex relationship between humans and animals, is one of the main pillars of this project.

The group exhibition features work by more than 40 artists, including Pierre Bismuth, Melanie Bonajo, Elen Braga, Sue Cue, Piero Gilardi, Rebecca Horn, Ad Minoliti, Panamarenko, Lin May Saeed and Uriburu.

DEEDS.NEWS - Lin May Saeed - The Liberation of Animals from their Cages XVIII - Olifant gate - Photo Wolfgang Günzel
The Liberation of Animals from their Cages XVIII / Olifant gate, 2016. Lin May Saeed. .Photo: Wolfgang Günzel Courtesy: “Estate Lin May Saeed”, Jacky Strenz, Frankfurt/Main

Inspired by the work of Coetzee
The title of the exhibition refers to J.M. Coetzee’s book The Lives of Animals, which presents different viewpoints on animals. These are often extremely polarised perspectives, which gives the novel a contemporary character and aptly reflects the dynamics of public debate around the subject of animals. The concepts of empathy and gentleness cited by Costello are the starting point for this exhibition.

“Animals are probably one of the most popular yet complex subjects that have accompanied us as a species since our inception. Humans evolve together with animals and therefore our attitude towards them has changed throughout history. With this expo, we encourage visitors to explore their ideas about animals.” – Curator Joanna Zielińska

An immersive auditory experience
Laughing rats, inaudible frequencies in the Amazon forest and birdsong are just some of the sounds visitors can experience in the sonic room. A unique space has been created in the exhibition where you can experience the various languages of animals. The audio material was compiled by artists and researchers.

“The space, filled with sound, lends a more performative dimension to the exhibition, in line with the essential methodology of curatorial work on this topic, which focuses on transdisciplinary approaches and artists with complex and long-term engagement with the subject.” says curator Joanna Zielińska

Ethical code
The exhibition is set up according to a code of ethics. Therefore, we do not show taxidermy, live animals or animal cruelty. Animals are the main protagonists of the exhibition, focusing on their biography and uniqueness. At the same time, it questions what gestures of empathy, kindness and love for animals might entail.

DEEDS.NEWS - Lin May Saeed - Reiniger Cleaner - Photo Wolfgang Günzel
Reiniger / Cleaner, 2006. Lin May Saeed. Courtesy: Estate Lin May Saeed, Jacky Strenz, Frankfurt/Main. Photo: Wolfgang Günzel

Participating artists:
Noor Abuarafeh, Antonia Baehr (together with Dodo Heidenreich, Nanna Heidenreich, Mirjam Junker, Itamar Lerner, Catriona Shaw Ida Wilde, Steffi Weismann), Pierre Bismuth, Melanie Bonajo, Elen Braga, Sue Coe, Simone Forti, Piero Gilardi, Rebecca Horn, K.P. Krishnakuma, Laura Lima, Anne Marie Maes, Dafna Maimon, Ad Minoliti, Luis Lazaro Matos, Britta Marakatt-Labba, Lin May Saed, Rosana Paulino, Carolee Schneemann, Jean Painlevé, Panamarenko, Janis Rafa, Nicolás García Uriburu, Filip Van Dingen, Tomás Saraceno, Anna Tsing (together with Yen-ling Tsai, Isabelle Carbonell & Joelle Chevrier), Aleksanda Waliszewska and others.

Sonic space with audio work by:
Izabela Dłużyk, Nathan Gray, Simone Forti, Kathy High, Lisa Schonberg, Charlemagne Palestine, Jean-Claude Roché and others.

The Lives of Animals, a group exhibition organised by M HKA, curated by Joanna Zielińska, senior curator at M HKA. Joanna Zielińska is an art historian, writer and curator, with a specialisation in performance.


​Saturday, 8. June until Sunday, 22. September 2024

Opening hours: Tue-Sun, 11 am – 6 pm
​Open every last Thursday of the month until 9 pm


​M HKA, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen
Leuvenstraat 32
2000 Antwerp


Regular: 14 EUR
Reduced: 8 EUR
< 18 years: free

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