Stephan Balkenhol

Johnen + Schöttle

The sight of Stephan Balkenhol’s 57 penguins is overwhelming: the smell that (temporarily) emanates from them is peculiarly fishy, originating in the wood. The birds—mostly alone, sometimes in twos, occasionally with an egg—are on pedestals of various heights, roughly at the viewer’s eye level. And they assume all the positions that penguins are known to or thought to take on land. Many of them are upright, using their stiff tail feathers as supports, a few are prone; others, peering sideways, down, or back, raise a wing in penguin fashion. Here, as in nature, the sexes are the same color, and it looks as if this penguin colony has some sort of human resemblance and is actually more than just a general assembly, in wood, of flightless birds whose internal communication by body language we can witness.

Formally, the 57 penguins are a hermetic unit, and their composite picture has an enormous

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