Beaubourg or Rhinoceros Sex

12 Sep 1994

– Robin des Bois action
Since two o’clock today the french environmental association Robin des Bois has taken over the Grand Gallery on the 5th floor of the Pompidou Centre to protest against the commentaries accompanying a work of Joseph Beuys called “Die Hörner” which is composed of two black African rhinoceros horns with two blood-filled tubes.

In the catalogue Joseph Beuys, edited by the Pompidou Centre, Fabrice Hergott –the exhibition commissioner- writes that “Die Hörner” (the horns) “…is the most suggestive work” of Beuys, which evokes “an aggregation of animality and eroticism”.

Hergott also feels that “Die Hörner” suggest that the boundaries between thought, word, nervous impulse, blood, animality and sexuality, the diversity of living beings and minerals are not always insurmountable”.

And those in China or elsewhere who are happy to use rhino horns in aphrodisiacs don’t have anything better to say.

Robin des Bois is asking the director of the Pompidou Centre to remove and ratify this “lustful” commentary illustrating Beuy’s work which was completed in 1961.

Moreover, to introduce into France two rhino horns even “in the name of art” requires an import permit from the Convention of Washington which handles international trade of endangered plant and animal species. If the Pompidou Centre failed to keep to these obligations, and imported it fraudulently, this hunting trophy erected by the black humour of Beuys into a “work of art”, should be immediately taken back to his country of origin.


– The extermination of the rhinoceros
In China, Taiwan, South Korea, Bruneï, Singapore Thailand and India there is deep-rooted belief in traditional medicine. One of the major ingredients of this medicine is powered rhinoceros horn which is noted for, among other things, it’s fever and convulsion reducing capacity, but most of all for its aphrodisiac effects. In Taiwan, today’s retail prices are $ 10,000/kg to $ 60,000/kg depending on whether the horn is African or Asian in origin.

Even thought international trade in all rhinoceros parts is banned by the Convention of Washington, illegal trade continues, notably with horns taken from rhinos poached in Central Africa and smuggled into Taiwan or Hong-Kong via South Africa.

Today, the total worldwide population of all 5 sub-species has been reduced to around 10,000, (at the beginning of the century there were more than 1,000,000 and 30,000 in 1970).

The rhinoceros’ fate and seemingly inescapable extinction will be one of the major topics of discussion at the next meeting of the Convention of Washington which will be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, between the 7th and 18th of November this year.




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