Dinner with a Chimpanzee: The Cradle of Humankind

Traum Stipendium, Energie AG mit OK Kultur Quartier, Linz. Summer 2015.

An odyssey of sorts.

The proposal was as the title suggests, to go to Africa and have dinner with a chimpanzee.

 

The idea was that Bunn felt totally powerless to do anything about the terrifying shape of the world, and thought that the most useless gesture he could perform would be to have dinner with a chimpanzee - our closest living relative in the animal kingdom, and indeed an endangered one to boot. Because art is supposed to be useless, no?

Somehow, happily, by the end of filming, the adventure had turned into something much more positive.

Having received a generous stipendium, Bunn set off for the heart of Africa with a rucksack full of potent symbols – from bread made in the shape of the Venus von Willendorf to salt hewn by druids from the mines of Hallstatt;

from duck feathers and radio controlled helicopters; from ready-made supermarket breadcrumbs to wind blown sand from the Sahara; from slinky blue lycra jumpsuits to Union Jack underpants.

What definitely resulted was:

a quasi-voodoo sculptural display of the objects from the rucksack,

and, tucked away behind this potently shonky effigy, a feature length movie, delivered in bite-sized chunks on an interactive menu card, set within a restaurant-like space.

Entrance to 'restaurant', with the 'voodoo' mask Bunn copied from a mask he saw in the Nairobi National Museum

Restaurant setting, left side, with T-shirt from Chimpanzee Santuary (left) and T-shirt from Bunn (right) (Mensch = person)

Restaurant setting, left side, with T-shirt from Chimpanzee Santuary (left) and T-shirt from Bunn (right) (Mensch = person)

Restaurant setting, right side, with 'Today's Specials' - short videos detailing short actions contained within longer dishes (films) from the menu

The triptych photo series from #9, 'The Maasai Warrior and Me'

Throughout the films Bunn tries his best to explain what the hell happened out there,

in space and time and subjectivity.

Indeed a central theme of the work could be said to be explanation itself.

Two scenes from the epic main course, #7, 'The Magic Feather'

The crescendo of #13, 'Blue Lycra Breakout'

Poetic gestures, frank confessions, awful failures.

Further details from #9, 'The Maasai Warrior and Me'

They all wrestle for space in this look at what lone, left-leaning-class-guilt might look like if it went spiritually pilgrimming to former colonies of the British empire in search of answers.

A quick trip to the future in #7, 'The Magic Feather'

Earth Venus, glowing peacefully by the roadside, Fort Portal, Uganda

#4, Venus von Willendorf Bread

Releasing a Venus into the mist from Ngorongoro crater, Tanzania,

#4, Venus von Willendorf Bread

Somewhere over Ethiopia, in the aeroplane toilet, Bunn films himself returning to Europe bearing sacred fire,

#15, Ancient Fire

And at various points, he did meet with chimpanzees. Though whether or not they really had dinner together remains to be seen.

Kibale National Park, Uganda. A chimpanzee lays down for a midday rest