Evaristti Studios
helena_1.jpg

Helena & El Pescador

2000

Helena & El Pescador

This work was originally part of the “Eye go black” exhibition in 2000, where the photograph was seen first, then the missile and lipsticks and finally a table with ten blenders containing living goldfish. The option of blending goldfish stole the thunder from the rest of the exhibition. Very few people today immediately associate the violent and central large photograph of a blindfolded man with military trousers around his ankles with “the goldfish work”.

The work is ultimately about a person’s journey in the world in which Evaristti believes there are three types of person: The Sadist, the Voyeur and the Moralist. If a person is a sadist he or she will press the button on the blender because he or she is able to do so. Is the person a voyeur, he/she excitedly observes whether others will press the button. Is the person a moralist he/she becomes infuriated by the fact that there is an option to blend fish. Moreover, the work does not have a single, unambiguous interpretation, but it is possible to seek out the many elements that point to the differences and similarity between the masculine and the feminine. Masculine symbols such as Evaristti himself with military trousers (around his ankles) and a missile are overwritten by feminine lipstick and the kitchen (traditionally the woman’s domain) blenders that become murder weapons when living goldfish are placed in them. Goethe's poem, The Fisherman, lay in a cupboard and served on several levels as inspiration for the installation. From the fish in risk of being pulled out of the safe water, to the meeting with the fatally seductive mermaid – and the longing for love. Goethe’s poem, The Fisherman, lay in a cupboard and served on several levels as inspiration for installation. From the fish in risk of being pulled out of the safe water, to the meeting with the fatally seductive mermaid – and the longing for love.

German words of derision written in lipstick on the photograph are: Arschriecher = arse licker; Schwanslutscher = cock sucker; Machomatraze = macho mat (hairy chest); Wichser = wanker; Schweinestall = pig sty; Arschficker = arse fucker; Arschtreter = arse kicker

Trapholt became world famous for the subsequent lawsuit. The crux of the lawsuit was that for the first few days of the exhibition, the Director of Trapholt, Peter S. Meyer, refused to comply with an order from the chief of police in Kolding that the blenders must not be activated. The order was imposed with reference to the Animal Welfare Act.

Since the very possibility that normal people could perform a public sadistic act by pressing the button and activating the blenders was a key element in the work, turning off the power would be a violent intervening action. The Museum Director therefore refused to deactivate the blenders. However, after three days he relented and deactivated them. But he did refuse to pay a fine of 2,000 Danish Kroner that he had received from Kolding police for not having immediately complied with the order to deactivate the blenders.

The refusal to pay the fine resulted in the lawsuit. The question was whether there had been reasonable grounds to suppose that observing the demise of the goldfish in the exhibition was in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. The defence lawyer for Trapholt, Merethe Stagetorn, summoned the artist Bjørn Nørgaard and the Director of Silkeborg Museum of Art to testify that the work subscribed to an important artistic tradition and context. A service engineer from Moulinex was summoned to testify that the speed of the blenders resulted in instantaneous death upon activation. In conclusion, a Doctor of Science from the Zoological Institute was summoned to testify that fish do not have any consciousness but only senses.

Consequently, the judge did not believe that the prosecuting authority had proven that the death of the goldfish was in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Kolding police did therefore not have the necessary reasonable grounds to impose the order on Trapholt to turn off the power. The court ruled in favour of Trapholt, which did not have to pay the fine of 2,000 Kroner.