Design Museum Gent Explores Humanity’s Complicated Relationship with Animals

Creatures Made to Measure: Animals and Contemporary Design explores multiple perspectives on our immensely complex relationship with the animal kingdom.
creatures made measure design museum gent

Creatures Made to Measure, running May 17 through September 29 at Design Museum Gent, examines humanity’s capacity to alternately adore and commodify animals. Seen here: Kuang Yi-Ku’s Tiger Penis Project, which creates an artificial organ for traditional Chinese medicinal use. Courtesy Ronald Smits

One day we worship them; the next, we harvest their bodies for food, clothing, and experiments. Humans’ millennia-old relationship with animals is complicated, to say the least. Creatures Made to Measure: Animals and Contemporary Design, an exhibition at Design Museum Gent in Belgium, doesn’t aim to answer these questions directly, but expresses a distinctly future-oriented curiosity in offering some perspectives. “It’s really about trying not to be dogmatic and showing how complex it is,” says curator Tanja Seiner, who developed the show’s concept with Marta Herford Museum in Germany, and adapted it with in-house curator Evelien Bracke for Design Museum Gent. The tripartite structure of Creatures encompasses works that interrogate our relationships with animals both “desirous” and “less appreciated,” Seiner says, as well as how we’ve abused some of our less sentient cohabitants to the brink of extinction. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. The last section, “Optimization ± Visions of the Future,” takes a hopeful approach to human engineering, seeing promise in speculative initiatives such as de-extinction and CRISPR gene editing. “It is basically asking how far we go in manipulating animals for human purposes,” Seiner says, “but also gives some glimpses into possible futures.”

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Categories: Design