The Breaking Point, or The Paradox of Origins

Anselm Franke (Germany)

Alt Art Space


“This contribution asks what cultural and epistemic origin stories – foundational narratives, creation myths, and primal scenes – can tell us about the design of the human species, the social bond, the narrative field and politics. … Foundational narratives display a performative paradox: they create the conditions of their own narratability, and so circumscribe the narrative field itself. The initial questions [in this collage] seek to invert the perspective on human self-creation by asking: Do we owe language to the animal? Does myth dream us up? Are apes and monkeys descended from humans? Did wheat and other grains domesticate us, rather than the other way around? Did oil enslave us? Do our emotions rest in architecture? No answers are given, but evidence is presented on how other humans have sought to come to terms with these questions.” –AF


The Breaking Point, or The Paradox of Origins is an installation by Berlin-based curator and writer Anselm Franke. Arranged against an Ethiopian painting from 1972 and suspended over a wheat-bed, a series of images, quotes and text excerpts raise questions about stories of origin and foundational narratives. Wheat, the domestication of which changed human evolution, serves as the connecting thread between various tales on civility, communal feasts and the domestication of humans.