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Start sniffing. Go on all fours. Follow a smell. Don’t talk. Growl when you cross someone’s way. Explore the smell.

Instruction for a fortune cookie, Making a scene, Kunsthal Gent, 2021

THE DOG IN ME

Lecture-Performance | 45‘ 00" | 2021

Text and concept: Benjamin Egger | With: David Attenberger | Costume design: Benjamin Egger, Fantastic Rubber & Florian Germann | Cat-pole: Benjamin Egger and Ortreport | Dramaturgical advice: Teresa Vittucci

Why can’t humans just be animals? In his performance Benjamin Egger is letting a queer fetish-cat lecture the audience. The sassy and ambiguous character embodied by David Attenberger dares the listener to abandon their faith in human exceptionalism. Inspired by theorists of animal ethics, animal studies and queer feminism the cat is taking the audience on a journey to conquer the status quo. While constantly returning to the example of the dog, the cat’s speech is dismantling the dogs as allies of humankind. At the same time it acknowledges them as beings that evolved through their cooperation with these most widespread and destructive mammals. Is it still reasonable to talk about dogs as non-human animals? Or should we not rather call them human animals? And then what?

AND THEN WE TOUCH

Video, Colour | Dolby 5.1 | DCP | 13‘ 30" | 2021

Written and directed: Benjamin Egger | Pupplayers: Aslan & Noah | Cinematography: Andi Widmer | Sound recording and mix: Reto Stamm | Post production: Silvio Gerber | Off-Voice: Darcy Alexandra | Poem: Benjamin Egger | Title Design: Marlon Ilg

A shimmering space opens up when the human is touching the non-human. The viewer becomes part of an intimate scene between two pupplayers in a living room. The close-up cinematography shows the soft touches and playful actions of two men dressed as dogs. AND THEN WE TOUCH confronts us with our own needs for sensuality, touch and playfulness as human animals. Egger raises our awareness of the performative nature of categories such as humanity and animality. In his cinematic essay he attempts to make up a post-human identity performed through bodily gestures and grunts. Becoming animal does not amount to a return to a so-called state of nature; on the contrary, it is a hybrid process, deeply “impure”, in which bodies and artifacts merge.

My hand is touching your fur
Your teeth penetrate my skin
All this togetherness on earth
All these billions of interactions

There are waves, concentric circles
They interfere
Amongst us
And amongst our ancestors
Too

To us, Dears Magazine for tranversal writing practices, Issue 1, 2020

UNTITLED

Series of 24 Water Colours | Each 625 x 880 mm | 2020

24 water colours, 24 ways of touching a dog‘s head. We see the hand of Benjamin Egger and the head of his companion dog Farok in a series of water colours showing a choreography of touches. The series opens a space between care, intimacy and abuse which is always present when we‘re living in relationships, especially with beings who are dependent on us.

MY BODY IS BECAUSE OF DOGS

Video | Colour | Stereo | HD | 14‘ 10" | 2020

Written and directed: Benjamin Egger | Cinematography: Benjamin Egger | Sound recording off-voice: Awah Kempf | Off-Voice: Teresa Vittucci | Text: Benjamin Egger

Benjamin Egger has spent days and nights with a pack of stray dogs in New Delhi. During the nights they are taking over the urban space for themselves. The video shows the pack at night while we are listening to thoughts on the evolutionary entanglement of dogs and human animals from the off. Egger‘s work rises questions about the influence of the dog on the human animal - not only on the social behavior, but also on the biological development. Human animals have lived with dogs for over 20,000 years. How has that shaped the human self-conception? How essential is the bond between these two hyper- cooperative species? How much dog is the human animal?

DOGS

Pigment print on Epson Mat Superior | 841 x 1189 mm | 2019

DOGS shows two different journeys of two different dogs: One is Cäcilie from Munich and the other is Dinkus from New Delhi. Cäcilie is a pet dog, who accompanies her human animal. Dinkus is a stray dog, who is able to range freely at anytime. Surprinsgly it is Dinkus who‘s radius of movement is much smaller than the one from Cäcilie. The print of the over-layered GPS-tracking-data is questioning the common understanding of freedom and at the same time is an illustrative example of the invasive behaviour of human animals documented through the tracking-data of a dog who accompanies one of them.

DOGS edition by Benjamin Egger for Lapin Canard

INHERENT CROSSING

Artistic Research Project | 2012-2017

Concept and lead: Benjamin Egger | Mentoring: Prof. Dieter Maurer and Prof. Carel van Schaik | Cooperation: Institute for Contemporary Art Research of the University of the Arts Zurich, Anthroplogical Insitute of the University of Zurich and Walter Zoo Gossau

Inherent Crossing investigates the self-motivated handling of painting implements in order to search for possible pre-graphic behavior among the chimpanzees of the Walter Zoo Gossau. The project is researching a potential crossing of the border between the playful, motoric gesture of leaving a trace and a conscious, formal expression. It questions whether chimpanzees can develop the self-motivated intent that leads to pre- graphic manifestations. A pre-graphic expression can be defined as an intended application of paint on a flat surface. Such an application of colour is guided by visual observation and inspection and subsequently motivates new brush strokes that relate to the previous application.

The project doesn‘t just look at the outcome itself, but rather at the production process and the framework underlying them. Thus, it is important to integrate the roles and relationships of all the involved beings - including the care-takers. The social framework and the individuality of each chimpanzee are decisive factors influencing the space for contemplation necessary to handle brushes, paints and a painting surface.

© Benjamin Egger, 2021