Make Tofu Not War, 2018

Basel 2018
Kate MacGarry
Other Materials
Woven tapestry
293.0 x 447.0 (cm)
115.4 x 176.0 (inch)
The first of a new series of 3D tapestries designed by Goshka Macuga features an imaginary scene in an old forest, possibly in the north of Europe, where a group of people dressed as animals (wolf, reindeer and a polar bear) appear to have gathered together after their participation in a protest. Their banners seem to respond to environmental issues as well as political ones. The landscape in the far background references the Tower of Babel which, when coupled with the animals and the water, is also suggestive of Noah’s Ark and a vision of the possible future. The tapestry incorporates futuristic references such as the use of 3D, and a space program represented by a cosmonaut and space capsule. When placed alongside manifestations of today’s environmental and political debates in the form of protest banners, these symbols create confusion in the temporality of the scene. The 3D effect mimics a past understanding of an image of the future, while the animals refer to a long tradition of depicting animals in order to represent or symbolise human characteristics. In 19th century cartoons published in magazine editorials, animals were featured as political symbols in order to influence voters by distilling complex ideas into more humorous illustrations. The banners in the tapestry reference stories such as Orwell’s Animal Farm and Aesop’s Fables, where animals play the protagonists, embodying human traits. Whilst mimicking another species, the protesters are accepting the social values of progress and the dominion of human over nature. By identifying with the non-human in the form of animals, they also “dis-identify” with the destruction of our natural environment and animal suffering caused by humans.  These animal protesters can also be seen to relate to the ‘furry fandom’ movement – a subculture interested in fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics. Furry fandom traces its origins to a science fiction convention in 1980 where it claimed to unite its members in finding a place of belonging. Make Tofu Not War is not aiming to represent the past, present or the future but rather opens up a platform to speculate about many possible ideas and outcomes of today’s current landscape.