Tarzan Informations Zentrum

{Dr. Christiane Kuhlmann}

Me Tarzan-You Jane
A Communicative Principle


We all know him, at least a bit, have a certain image of him, even though we know he is a work of art. Actors lend him their physiques, more or less filling him out. When I think of him, I see a black-and-white image in front of me, imagining him in colour is more difficult. But the image is definite: A muscleman in a loincloth with limited knowledge of the human language but capable of understanding the call of the wild. Tarzan is a hero, not quite of our time, marking the border between nature and culture. He stands for the naturally good, the Lord of the jungle who creates structures. Basic behavioural patterns can be read through him. He develops a sense of danger, lives his emotions and takes responsibility for all those belonging to him. One can say he was a real and ideal dream creature if that exists.

The pictures before my eyes have been generated by the anticipatory nature of the medium lasting for the duration of a film show. Moving pictures have a privileged position in their relation to reality. A movie can become real very quickly, one empathizes, feels scared and frightened, shocked, starts crying or adds another figure to one's catalogue of fancies. It is impossible not to be drawn in by its monumentality in a dark theatre, sitting in a deep, threadbare, mostly faded pink-coloured velvet seat, as only in this kind of cinema one has the chance of an encounter with the real Tarzan. This can all change with the erection of a statue. Tarzan, the legend of film history, has been dragged onto the silver screen time and time again, which shows that the Lord of the Wild has to fill in a gap, offer a projection screen that is timeless and is ever newly interpreted.

Johannes Gramm's walk-in Tarzan sculpture is not only the world's largest but also the only one of its kind. Finding its site is more laborious that buying a cinema ticket and climbing the stair construction an effort that emphasizes the fact that one is part of an overall installation. The beholder plays an active part and does not remain part of an audience of a regimented, limited spectacle. The sculpture is the reciprocation of the filmic principle of empathy. One has to find one's way into real nature, something that many people find unusual these days. The jungle here is certainly different from the cardboard set of the filmic phantasm and the location can only be a small island in a landscape shaped by industrialism. It will be a place of artificial nature, a landmark, but perhaps it will move more than the unreeling of celluloid has ever been able to. One becomes aware of how precious such sites are, amidst a "civilisatory" urban jungle, providing every liberty. Compared to other sculptures of this kind in the Ruhr area, for example Richard Serra's Bramme, it will be a work measuring itself on human dimensions. The observer and inhabitant of the Tarzan sculpture turns into an actor, takes on a leading role and can concentrate all his powers to send out a cry into the world. This can be either earth-shattering or a gentle call. It is a symbol for the communicative structures of and with art. The "Tarzan Informations Zentren" (TIZ), the stickers and T-Shirts, the internet blog that is accessible and visible worldwide, already point out what it means to make contact with one another through a work of art. And perhaps Tarzan's most famous line "Me Tarzan-You Jane" will become synonymous with unprejudiced encounters and achieve a sense of reality.

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