Frank Hesse / Projects / A Casting of Two Giant Snakes (2005) Space Space
Frank Hesse - A Casting of Two Giant Snakes
Slide-installation with four projectors and digital control unit. Loop, 5 minutes.

Two projectors blend the pictures, the other two blend in the text as subtitles. The resulting projection resembles an undertitled movie without sound. The only perceptible sound is the characteristic click of the revolving slide canister and the hum of the projector ventilation.

View Flash documentation of the slide installation
[720x560, 5:30 min, 2 MB, Loop]  ...>
View Flash documentation of the slide installation
[720x560, 5:30 min, 2 MB, Loop]  ...>
Subtitles ...>

Josef Pallenberg had been engaged to design the main entrance, and in the following years, he created approximately 50 full-scale saurian reconstructions from the Jurassic and Cretatious periods. Pallenberg had a reputation for being a scientific artist and was, therefore, particularly popular among zoology experts. His affinity with the animal world was innate.His love, knowledge and respect for the subject were prerequisite for his unusually precise and detailed models. He usually preferred the company of animals to that of his fellow humans, and spent most of his time in front of cages and enclosures, studying and portraying. He did not create generic sculptures of a particular species, but exact representations of individual animals. His search for the greatest possible precision led him to the casting technique, which he constantly perfected. For this purpose, he was always on the lookout for dead animals, and as soon as he heard that an animal had perished, he made his way to the zoo, and presently returned to his studio with a sack full of cadavers. He then used these for his casts, thus reanimating the beasts in a most impressive manner. During the years he spent at Hagenbeck’s, Pallenberg produced a casting of two giant snakes that, during the night from the 25th to the 26th of August 1909, as a consequence of their own voracity whilst devouring the remains of a swan, had bitten so hard into each other’s tails that it was impossible for them to extricate themselves. In the course of the ensuing tussle, the snakes fell into the basin of their container, where they both drowned. Generations of visitors have felt compelled to stroke over the sculpture’s meandering twists. The sculpture’s surface is, therefore, as smooth today as it was a hundred years ago, when Carl Hagenbeck first realised his dream of a park in which assorted animal species could coexist peacefully. Thus, he created the first modern zoo and from then on, visitors no longer had to stare into cages but could experience the animals in their natural environment, only separated from the beasts by concealed trenches.

Translation: Philip Jacobs