Anna Haifisch & Anja Koch
Known for her whimsical, melancholic animal universes, Leipzig-based comic artist Anna Haifisch opens ocular witness: PIG CONSCIOUSNESS with portraits of grazing pigs. Anja Koch, who runs the farm for these Fläming grazing pigs, has characterised the pigs in brief texts, communicating the sociability and individuality of these intelligent creatures. We know that the physiology of pigs is similar to that of humans in some respects, which is why they are used in human medical research. Work is being done on transplanting pig hearts into humans.
It is well known that the distinction between animals and humans is not biologically but culturally determined, even if we are rather sloppy with it in everyday language. Moreover, “even when the term is used in the plural, the category ‘animals’ obscures the differences that exist among the diversity of living beings subsumed under the term, which is why this category [...] also contributes to the perpetuation of human-animal dualism,” says a writer in the tradition of the philosopher Jacques Derrida.¹
In his novella Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Bulgakov thought through the transplantation of a heart in the opposite direction, that is, from a human being into an animal, or more precisely, into a dog. Written in 1925 in the Soviet Union, at a time when the socialist state was introducing capitalist economic mechanisms, Heart of a Dog was peppered with allusions to the absurd contradictions between revolutionary hope, official propaganda and daily reality. Human intervention in nature and the exaltation of man as superior to the non-human animal give the subject matter a satirical grounding: the dog degenerates “morally” and becomes a highly unpleasant individual after implantation of the human heart. Heart of a Dog was so politically explosive that the story was not officially published in the Soviet Union until 1987.²
We encounter Anja Koch’s pigs in Anna Haifisch’s drawings in a delightful setting, as was common not so long ago. Until the 19th century, pigs were fattened mainly in beech and oak forests, wetlands, floodplains and bogs. Today, this type of animal husbandry is practised only rarely and mostly on organic farms. While respecting the animals’ needs, this ensures the greatest possible independence from agro-industry, but profits are low. Conventional pig farms also regard grazing pigs as a threat to their own large herds, highly vulnerable because they are bred for economic efficiency. Pigs kept outdoors are also susceptible to diseases transmitted by wild boar and contribute to their spread.
A pig’s life potential, like that of all other farmed animals, is usually dictated with the utmost matter-ofcourse by human economies – economies in which consumers, too, are seen primarily as a means of maximising profits and increasing returns. Rethinking the relationship of the human to the non-human animal is therefore necessary not only in the context of animal ethics and sustainability. It is simply a question of self-respect: in what kind of economies do we want to be involved and in what capacity? Is the discussion about food so emotional not least because we have at least partial control over it?
¹ Chimaira – Arbeitskreis für Human Animal Studies, “Eine Einführung in Gesellschaftliche Mensch-Tier-Verhältnisse und Human-Animal-Studies”, in: ibid., Human Animal Studies, Bielefeld 2011, p. 8.
² First German edition Luchterhand, Neuwied - Berlin 1968. A new translation by Alexander Nitzberg entitled Das hündische Herz, based on the last version of Bulgakov’s text, was published in 2013.
Born in 1986, Leipzig; lives in Leipzig
• 2004–2011 Studied illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig • 2008 –2010 Screenprinter at Kayrock Screenprinting, Brooklyn, New York • 2012–2015 After studying, master student under Thomas M. Müller, Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig
E: 2022 Chez Schnabel, Museum für bildende Künste, Leipzig (SE) (C); Hi Life, Kunstverein Erlangen, DE; Homi, Kunsthalle Osnabrück, DE (SE) • 2021 The Artist – Ode an die Feder, MOM art space, Hamburg (SE) • 2019 The Mouse Glass, Riso Club, Leipzig (SE) • 2018 Fuji-San, Kabinettspassage, Museumsquartier, Vienna (SE); Drifter, Micēlijs, Riga, LV (SE)
P: The Artist, omnibus edition, Berlin, 2022 • Residenz Fahrenbühl, Leipzig, 2021 • Schappi, Kassel, DE, 2020 • I Can’t Find My Shoes, Berlin, 2020 • Von Spatz, Montreal, CA, 2018 • Fuji-San, Vienna, 2018 (some also in French, English and Swedish editions)
*1980 Gießen; lives in Brück/Fläming
• Trained as a farmer, graduated as a master farmer • since 2019 running the organic farm Fläminger Weideschwein.