Fr, 17.9.21

Film Night with Film Makers Ojoboca


Time  20.30

Cineding Open Air Cinema at Hildegarten, Röckener Str. 44, Leipzig

Ojoboca (Anja Dornieden and Juan David González Monroy): Her Name Was Europa, 2020, 16mm, 76min

The aurochs, the pre­cur­sor of modern catt­le, is con­side­red to be the first docu­men­ted case of exter­mi­na­ti­on of  a spe­ci­es. The last known aurochs died 1627 in the forest of Jaktorów, Poland. In the 20th cen­tu­ry, attempts to revi­ve the aurochs began.

Ojoboca (Anja Dornieden and Juan David González Monroy), film­ma­kers from Berlin, in their film Her Name Was Europa look into various dif­fe­rent pro­jects that tried to revi­ve the aurochs. In the 1920s, German zoo­lo­gists Lutz and Heinz Heck deci­ded to start a bree­ding back pro­ject. The brot­hers, who were direc­tors of the zoos in Berlin and Munich, respec­tively, cross-bred various modern catt­le breeds, hoping to end up with a crea­tu­re that would resem­ble the ori­gi­nal aurochs.

The Heck brot­hers’ fan­ta­stic goal con­for­med to the ideo­lo­gy of racial puri­fi­ca­ti­on which at that time was glo­ri­fied by natio­nal socia­lism. The Heck brot­hers attempt­ed to reestab­lish the aurochs’ bio­lo­gi­cal unity which they belie­ved had been dege­ne­ra­ted through dome­sti­ca­ti­on. The aurochs was con­side­red stron­ger, purer, and more beau­tiful than dome­sti­ca­ted catt­le, and the­r­e­fo­re cor­re­spon­ded to the German ide­al of an unspoilt, heroic nature.

Once the lar­gest European land mammal, the aurochs was a sym­bol of German power and supe­rio­ri­ty, but World War II baf­f­led the bree­ding back pro­ject. Heck catt­le, the off­spring of tho­se expe­ri­ments, still live in Germany today. As a sci­en­ti­fic enter­pri­se, howe­ver, the Hecks’ pro­ject is con­side­red a failure.

Heck catt­le invol­un­t­a­ri­ly embo­dy a para­do­xi­cal view. This view values natu­re as some­thing who­le, pure, and untouch­ed; and yet it tri­es to form it accor­ding to human needs and wis­hes. Even today, natu­re is being for­med in various ways in order to pre­ser­ve it. The film looks into some of the psy­cho­lo­gi­cal traces this stri­ving left during the cour­se of its his­to­ri­cal development.