“ In the world, there are two sorts of balloons. The ‘Up Balloon’ and the ‘Down Balloon’. ” – Peppa Wutz

Essay from
Jenny Schäfer

On his bookcase are the things he doesn’t play with. A snow globe, a homemade yellow cardboard octopus, a gold-painted St. Mark’s lion from Venice – made of the same ceramic material that many fridge magnets are also made of – a tiny nodding turtle, an even smaller turtle made of fridge magnet material, a nesting wooden penguin, a nesting wooden seal, a high-gloss painted Pluto of high-quality ceramics, a little model of Checkpoint Charlie made of fridge magnet material, and a Lucky Pig of the same material. I have since found out that these objects are made of polyester resin. On the bottom of the Lucky Pig she wrote: “I wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year 2020. Lots of love, Grandma”. The pig is painted light orange, and the ears and the nose are tinged in pink. Its right ear is decorated with a small fly agaric. Around its neck it wears a red bow tie with white dots. In its front left trotter it carries a golden horseshoe. Its hind legs stand on an oversized green shamrock. I was always given such a pig for the New Year. Sometimes made of marzipan, sometimes as a decorative figurine with a lucky penny or carried by a chimney sweep. Currently for sale for only € 3.90.

“3 Lucky Pigs with 1 pfennig coin, 24 carat gold-plated / Ideal as a beautiful year-round gift / Real lucky charms / An exclusive piece of decoration for a festively laid table and a sought-after collectible! / Not available in shops / New and unused.”

These accumulations of lucky charms naturally have their origins in some Germanic legend or other. Freyr, who was married to his sister Freyja, was once given a golden boar called either Gullinborsti or Slíðrugtanni (Gullinborsti is cuter). Gullinborsti pulls Freyr’s wagon through the air and over water and – get this! – lights up the dark night with his bristles. People have therefore adopted this magical little pig as a symbol of prosperity.

On bildderfrau.de I also read that the Greeks and Romans didn’t have to go hungry if they owned a pig, and “since the 16th century the pig has probably also been used in Germany as a piggy bank, because that’s where the oldest specimen has been found that even still had coins in it.”

“Are you longing to have a lovely little pig as a pet, so you can bring the lucky charm and its meaning into your own home? Read the essential info here on how to keep mini-pigs. You can also find out the meanings of common dream symbols. You can read more about this on our zodiac signs theme page. Also, do you know the deeper meaning of white roses?”

We didn’t have to go hungry. There was always sausage. Sausage platters, Viennese sausage, sausage salad, “Bärchenwurst”, grilled sausage, sausage from my godmother – the one with the turkey farm. Her neighbours had a pig farm and that’s why it was included in the sausage parcels, in the form of raw sausage, boiled sausage and cooked sausage, meat sausage, Jagdwurst, liver sausage, Mettwurst, blood sausage, Teewurst, ham sausage, raw ham, cooked ham, Bierschinken, Mortadella, and then in the noughties Italian Mortadella, Leberkäse, minced meat, Weckewerk, meatballs, salami. On Saturdays I went shopping with my father – after I had pestered him for a Surprise Egg or a Mickey Mouse comic at the supermarket, we went to Wagner’s butcher’s shop and I was given a rolled slice of Mortadella. But we only bought the regionally most popular sausage, “Ahle Wurscht”, from Thiele. For supper there was then either sausage from stacked Tupperware containers or this plate of cold cuts. Such a plate of cold cuts is still a constant at various visits to parents today. I never used to like it when the liverwurst touched the salami however slightly and there were smear marks on it. Or even worse were bits of liverwurst in the butter in school sandwiches and then salami on top. When I worked at the preschool, we had liver sausage for breakfast on Wednesdays and the children’s breath smelled of sausage all morning. I always knew that animals die for this sausage. At some point I knew that they were kept badly and there were people who didn’t eat sausage. I was quite surprised that it was possible and thought: I’ll do THAT too. However, THAT didn’t work out because both my parents and grandparents totally ignored THAT and I was unable to assert myself due to other complications. When I moved out to do my training, I met vegetarians and even vegans. I hardly ever ate meat, even now I rarely eat meat, but I am not convincing enough for my son to go vegetarian on his own initiative. However, we talk about the animal on grandpa’s table. The children’s book “Wo kommt unser Essen her” (“Where does our food come from”) describes the process from the piglet to the sausage, and we talk about when an animal has had a good life, whether we have the right to eat animals that we a) don’t kill ourselves, b) don’t know personally or c) should kill and eat if we knew them. At one point my son asked if it would perhaps be okay if he only ate pork, because they weren’t his favourite animals. Yesterday he said again “Pigs are very intelligent and sensitive animals.” I can observe my cognitive dissonance quite well here. Yes, but. No, because. And also, but, mmm, yummy. Incidentally, at the butcher’s there was a monthly butcher’s leaflet containing a recipe, a crossword puzzle and a joke page. I really liked it. I also liked the food in disposable containers (Assiette) we sometimes got there and reheated in the microwave. “Assiette”, by the way, is a French word that means not only plate or shallow dish, but also mood or frame of mind. And that is an important point, for this eating of dead animals is no longer necessary. We don’t have to do it to survive, but the dishes remind us of something and give us a certain feeling. For Mr Schulz it is the feeling of having made it. It is no longer a problem for him to drive to the meat counter in his leased car and buy a lot of meat. He can barbecue multiple steaks, afford bratwurst whenever he likes. He no longer lives in a tiny flat with a toilet on the landing and under observation from youth welfare officers. For Mr Schneider the situation is different, but similar. The meat display reminds him of his childhood. Slaughtering a pig was something special. Then there were festive meals, such as the Sunday roast. Mrs Hermelin also thinks it’s not a proper Sunday without the Sunday roast, even though she stopped going to church long ago. We all know the Church is also a hypocritical institution. She no longer pays Church tax because of all the hypocrisy and everything, but meals don’t taste of anything without meat, neither the fried potatoes nor the stew.

At the fair, at club do’s, at the festival for the deaf and at the market there has always been, even today, pork bratwurst with mustard or ketchup. Best of all with a good bread roll, and worst of all with a slice of toasting bread from the packet. For me personally, eating meat also has to do with memories. The memories are pretty awful and are too personal for me to go into here. But maybe I can say this much: it had a lot to do with being looked after. What one person couldn’t do, my grandmother made up for two- and threefold, and at least four times a week she served up pork in various forms. There was a piece of white bacon on a small plate in the fridge, covered with cling film. Having said hello my grandparents, I strolled to the fridge, cut off a piece of rind, sprinkled a lot of iodised salt on it and feasted on it. Afterwards, my grandma would come into the kitchen, laughing or scolding me in a friendly way. It’s struck me that my other grandma almost never had pork or any other meat, but always fritters or potato dumplings. At some point, Edina and her parents moved in above my meaty grandma. They laughed a lot and didn’t eat pork. At that time I didn’t even know that there were people who don’t eat some animals for reasons of tradition or religion. Amazed, my inner white baby Jesus, imprinted on me by my Roman Catholic grandmother, made room for new experience. It now smelled of different meat. It was jolly tasty and I ate happily with Edina. Together we drew Diddl mice and Nici ducks. It was also the time of Uli Stein’s mouse and pig comics. I remember these drawings well; you would stroll through the Nanu-Nana store and find cards, mugs or key rings showing printed scenes like a pug and a pig looking at a computer screen. The pug complains, “When I type in ‘pugs’, all I get is this ..” – referring to pictures of breasts, as the German for pug, “Mops”, also means “tit”. The pig replies “Well, you should see the muck I always get when I search for ‘piggy’ stuff!” Presumably not coincidentally, this kind of humour is associated with fairgrounds, Germany, football, barbecue chefs and shooting clubs. I don’t know what the precise link is, but it falls into line with having made it, allowing yourself to crack jokes, with toxic masculinity and sausage gifts. I find many phallic variations of these phenomena on amazon.de. Herz & Heim sells the

“Gift for the Man Salami – Cable Drum – The World’s Longest Male Candy – personalised Salami Hearts – Men’s Candy – with Imprinted Name for Father’s Day.

The Wurstbaron “Sausage Baron” sells

Salami Turds, Delicious Salami in a Fun Design, High Quality and Smoky Aroma, Hilarious Gift, 240 gEaster Salami Mole, Zoo Cow or Lucky Pig, as well as for the barbecue Wurstbaron’s Moped Various Marinated Barbecue Meats and BratwurstsSalami Sparkling Wine Bottle Champagne and Walking Stick Men’s Day”

And my favourite and the website’s namesake: the Sausage Bouquet.

“… fitting for any occasion. The large Sausage Bouquet is a composition of 3 roses, consisting of homemade salami & salmon ham, as well as the finest smoked cheese. All individually vacuum-packed.”

There is a range from Large Red Sausage Bouquet to Large INDIVIDUAL Sausage Bouquet to Small Golden Wedding Sausage Bouquet. This shaping of chopped meat into floral arrangements or cute animals reminds me of the recurring theme in the butchery context of the pig as a mascot, dressed up as a kitchen or barbecue chef. A motif board with the offer of the day held by a laughing comic-style pig wearing a white chef’s hat and a white smock and holding a cleaver in his left hand. A drawn pig, laughing, wearing a white chef’s apron and holding a roasted sausage on a barbecue skewer in his right hand. If one thinks these configurations through to their logical conclusion, one is left with a bitter aftertaste. That it is difficult to reconcile wanting to eat meat and knowing about the cruel conditions of industrialised pig farming; the fact that moral and environmental debates and decisions have to be made by both policymakers and individuals is undeniable, but the urge to portray the pig as a happy donor of its own ribs is deeply, as Donna Haraway would perhaps put it, untentacular, anthropomorphic and egoistic. “Every new discovery is just a reminder” says the philosophising Jobu in the Rock Scene in the magnificent film Everything Everywhere All At Once (2023) to Evelyn, who replies, “We’re all small and stupid”.

Today I told my father in a café about this collection of thoughts about the pig, and he was thoughtful for a moment, moved off into the past and told me something I hadn’t known. He often used to visit his grandparents in Harlingerode, his mother’s parents. Every year when winter came, in October or November, when it was foggy and dark, they slaughtered a pig. They always had two pigs. The butcher came to help and my father looked on with great interest as the pig was cut up and processed. With revulsion and amazement, he saw large pots in which large pieces were being cooked. There was lots of steam and, in his view, unpleasant smells. The sausages and meat cuts were then taken to this cool underground room where everything was stored. He then returned from the past and laughed. The meat never tasted as good to him as meat from the shop. He found the homemade sausage suspect and preferred to eat the anonymous, bought meat. It was better seasoned anyway. That may of course be the case. But I also think that the alienation from the animal – through the capitalistic, consumption-oriented, sanitised and abstracted step of substituting the act of slaughtering with the act of buying – makes many things easier.

Finally, I would like to quote from Homer Simpson’s utopian song about his pet pig Plopper. He took the pig in because he believes that animals wearing human clothes should not be killed. He writes Plopper a song:

 Does whatever a Spider-Pig does."


Born in 1985, Kassel; lives in Hamburg

• 2008–2012 Studied art to become an art teacher at special needs’ schools • 2012–2015 Studied fine arts and photography at HFBK Hamburg

E 2023 Spannkraft und Elastizität, Galerie HINTEN, Chemnitz (with HazMatLab) • 2021 limited edition, artists’ house FRISE, Hamburg (with Carsten Benger) • 2020 Easy, MOM art space, Hamburg (with Franziska Opel) • 2019 World can only be saved by horses, nygIwest, Leipzig • 2018 I Am A Future Animal, Studio 45, Künstlerhaus Wendenstrasse, Hamburg • 2017 Forum 044: Liste: Neues Wasser, Münchner Stadtmuseum, Munich, DE; This is no Science Fiction, Institut für moderne Kunst, Nürnberg • 2014 Aggregat (Gestein), Galerie HINTEN, Chemnitz

P Arbeitstage, Hamburg, 2023 • Atlas, Vergleichende Steinsammlung, Hamburg, 2022 • again between. Ein Heft, zwölf Fotografien, ein Gedicht, Leipzig, 2022 • String Figures, Hamburg, 2022