19.07.2023  •  Art NEWS

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Maximilian Prüfer ‘Fruits of Labour’ - a project about insect mortality and the endangerment of biodiversity – as an illustrated book at Kerber Publishing and an exhibition at Weltmuseum Wien

Maximilian Prüfer (1986) explored the consequences of environmental destruction for the Chinese agricultural industry. To this end, he visited the Szechuan Province twice where the fruit trees are pollinated solely by hand due to insect mortality caused by the increased use of pesticides.

A political campaign initiated by Mao Zedong (1893–1976) in 1958 to ‘destroy the four plagues’ (rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows) during the ‘Great Leap Forward’ led to a massive ecological imbalance in nature. As a result, millions of people have died of starvation.

The concept artist interested in evolution, philosophy and society documented the entire manual pollination process in photos, collected items, and films – an ambivalent exploration of the cultural development of humankind.

Staging a single fruit – the pear – Prüfer refers to another of Mao’s political campaigns from 1968, the heroisation of the mango. Mao received mangoes, exotic fruits, as a gift from Pakistan’s foreign minister. Mao gave them to the workers’ and peasants’ propaganda troops who had supported him and his political ideas. From then on, mangoes symbolized Mao’s care and kindness, and were reproduced many times over in different materials.

With ‘Fruits of Labour’, the Weltmuseum Wien presents the German conceptual artist Maximilian Prüfer, whose performative works deal with human interventions in nature in the age of the Anthropocene and point to their global consequences. An illustrated book has been published at Kerber.

The Museum on the exhibition : “The disappearance of pollinating insect species and the decline in biodiversity must also make us rethink our actions in Europe and Austria. The wild bee specimens on display from the collection of the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien are evidence of species of wild bees that are already extinct in Austria..

We humans are responsible for landscape destruction, excessive cultivation, monocultures, the use of chemical plant protection agents, and climate change. The exhibition is meant to inspire us and make us think about how to deal carefully with the fragile ecosystem we live in.”

The exhibition was curated by Maximilian Prüfer and Bettina Zorn, curator of the collections from East Asia (China, Korea, Japan). Gerhard Veigel designed the show.

Maximilian Prüfer was born in Weilheim in 1986. He studied Design and Communication Strategy in Augsburg and Art in Bologna. In his work, Prüfer is primarily concerned with the exploration of natural processes and their transfer into visual media. In doing so, he explores existential, philosophical and political themes in relation to evolution and the manipulation of the ecosystem by humans. Particularly characteristic of his artistic practice is the recording of animal traces, which he calls nature antipodes. In doing so, the artist explores forms of collective intelligence of animals such as snails, ants and bees, and the relationship to society and human instinct.

Exhibition : Fruits of Labour, 18 May, 2023 – 10 April, 2024, Weltmuseum Wien.

 
 Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

 
 Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

 
 Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

 
 Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

 
 Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

 
 Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

Maximilian Prüfer 'Fruits of Labour' (Kerber Verlag)

 
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