Curiosity and Control

Curiosity and Control

Documentary Film
58 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Adam Marko-Nord, Sara Waldestam
Albin Biblom
Goran Kajfes, David Österberg
Albin Biblom
Bernhard Winkler
Albin Biblom
David Österberg
In the 19th century, dioramas were a kind of predecessor of the movies. Taxidermy animals from distant countries were to be presented in the most lifelike environments possible. The US scientist and sculptor Carl Akeley is considered the father of taxidermy. He created groundbreaking dioramas for the New York Museum of Natural History in the early 20th century. In the 1920s he was the first man to film mountain gorillas and changed from hunter to dedicated animal protectionist. His biography reflects both the social changes in our attitude to animals and technical progress.

Based on a portrait of the pioneering Akeley, “Curiosity and Control” addresses the different ways animals are presented in natural history museums and zoos, critically exploring various perspectives. What is man’s relation to the fauna? It’s marked by curiosity and control: the former drove early scientists to collect, own, and systematise animals since the early expeditions – and preserve them from extinction. Ownership, however, also generates dominance. Is it permissible to keep other species in cages? No matter how “natural” and humane the zoo architecture is: “You will see something that looks like an elephant. But it’s not behaving like a wild elephant,” a zoo director says. Another dilemma.

Annina Wettstein