Waltraud Munz (Germany)
Waltraud Munz (Germany) »Anthill or Gulliver’s Travels to Brobdingnag – the Land of the Giants« – Installation and action
Herrgottsberg in Bessunger Forest is becoming an anthill for red wood ants. Dark ant tracks lead to an accessible depression in the hill and right inside the anthill. They are marked by scents, for ants communicate using pheromones from glands in their abdomens.
Around 600 iridescent wings hover on the approx. 40 m long slope leading inside the anthill, caught between tree trunks. After the coupling flight, the male ants and the queen(s) shed their wings. The males die and the fertilized queen withdraws into the anthill and starts producing eggs.
In Jonathan Swift’s novel “Gulliver’s Travels”, the ship’s doctor Lemuel Gulliver relays his experiences on four
journeys in the early 18th century. On his first journey to the island of Liliput, he meets the tiny inhabitants and is suddenly a giant. His second journey takes him to the island of Brobdingnag. Here the relationship is inverted: Gulliver is a dwarf among giants.
Nothing is inherently large or small, bright or dark, light or heavy etc., but always only in relation to something else. Both installations allow visitors a sensory experience of this game of changing standards and different perspectives.
Fleeting materials like the aroma of oranges and fir needles as well as shimmering foils capture the short nature show for the duration of an exhibition.
“The liberation of the queen of the night”. An action for the Long Night of Museums on Sept. 22 , 2006 at the anthill with Waltraud Munz, Jürgen Reitz and Irmgard Hagel.
Jürgen Reitz on Waltraud Munz’s work “Anthill or Gulliver’s Travels to Brobdingnag – the Land of the Giants” Lecture “under + over: The Anthill in Human Dimensions”
Waltraud Munz’s work is shaking normal proportional relationships. From which perspective do we perceive something? Are ants as big as humans or are humans as small as ants?
This question of relative size is also the main theme of Jonathan Swift’s novels about Gulliver. Translated into human dimensions, we see astounding similarities in the form of housing as well as behavioral norms of ants and humans. The structures of anthills are comparable to street systems and large buildings. Ocean liners, subway systems, shopping malls, ancient Egyptian pyramids and tunnel systems, e.g. in the Alps, are human-size anthills. The ant state, with its clearly defined roles for each individual, is in parts more perfect than all human systems, aided by ants’ sense of orientation and so-called swarm intelligence. At the same time they have a functioning decentralized system without an hierarchical order – inconceivable for humans.
If you take a closer look at the structures and the social system of the ant state, you will find an impressively perfect organism in this tiny creature.
There are definite parallels between anthill structures and modern human constructions, both in terms of form and in the use of natural forms instead of artificial machines, such as, e.g., in ventilation shafts.
The technical realization of these considerations for the translation of the standard of the ant to human proportions was part of Waltraud Munz’s work in arranging the accessible ant tracks and human-sized iridescent wings.