Tarzan Informations Zentrum

{Dr. Uwe Schramm}

My Tarzan


The character of "Tarzan" is one of the best-known heroes in the landscape of film and television. The "Lord of the Jungle" was born at the beginning of the last century. His creator, the American author Edgar Rice Burroughs, first presented him in a 1912 edition of the "All-Story-Magazine".

Tarzan, as the story tells us, is the son of a British lord and his wife who, abandoned by mutineers on the African coast, die shortly after the birth of their son. Baby Tarzan is then raised by apes, remote from any human civilization, and soon has to face the tough reality of life in the jungle. Human contact is re-established when he has a chance meeting with Jane, the daughter of a scientist. He promptly falls in love with the long-haired beauty who henceforth becomes his companion and soon gives birth to a strong son. It is Jane who tames the jungle "savage" and teaches him manners. Together, the family live a blissful jungle life-including a lofty home above the tree tops with a natural swimming pool attached-amidst tame elephants and chimpanzees. Together they live through a series of adventures, the effectively-filmed versions if which still fill the cinemas of this world.

The silver-screen pioneer was the slightly naive but highly moralistically inclined, steel-muscled hero of the 1930s. The ex-swimming champion Johnny Weissmüller proved to be the ideal personification for the glittering world of film. The taciturn model athlete had not only the handsome physique but also the power, endurance and speed the part required. Weissmüller's most famous film pose is the one of a fearless champion against injustice and civilisation's barbarity in the face of the beauty of the native jungle. Clad in a loincloth, his broad chest bulging, his hands in the shape of a funnel, sending out an ear-splitting cry into the world, making the beautiful grazing animals freeze and the excited natives and the inevitable fair-skinned hunters stop in their tracks. This pose determined Tarzan's claim to become a legend and model for numerous film and literary adaptions. Tarzan has since become part of our universal cultural memory. Etched into the minds of countless enthusiastic celluloid disciples, Tarzan stands for the mostly unattainable ideal of absolute authority. The myth of the dominating Alpha male who has the surrendering, or at least listening world at his feet, is impressively confirmed with the Tarzan character.

Tarzan's imposing cry makes him the lord of life and death. In the thick of the native forest, the guttural jungle-yodel serves him as a wireless means of communication as well as a warning shout. It is a signal to humans and animals that danger is nigh, that it may be a matter of life and death. Its originator confidently marks his territory. Tarzan shouts -and the world stands still for a moment. It listens to the faraway signal und the information conveyed by it. He who utters this sound knows that he will find attention and acknowledgement and is aware of his privileged position above all the other inhabitants of his realm. Tarzan's cry is a loudly uttered sign of unbreakable courage and animal power. It stands for confidence, security and strength. Whosoever sends it out into the world expects a certain reaction from all potential receivers, be it hectic flight, awakening of the senses or united defence against unwanted invaders.

Johannes Gramm's Tarzan sculpture will be a larger-than-life place of communication. The imposing hero, cast in bronze, can be reached via a platform from the rear. His hands are funnel-shaped to transmit any sounds sent into the back of his head, audibly into the world. Anyone can voice opinions on anything, thereby becoming part of a virtual community. This literally lifts a work of art from its pedestal in the sense of democratizing obtainable information media and turning it into a usable, universally available means of communication. There will be nothing prohibited or limited. Everyone is responsible for his or her own messages and enters into an ever changing discussion pool that provokes responses, replies, contradictions or applause.

The verbal limitations of the film idol are replaced with a never ending source of verbal ejaculations. The taciturn Tarzan of his day has made the transfer into the present thus securing his own survival. Prompted by hundreds of voices from the background, he becomes the voice of everything that moves the people of today, what they dream of and what they fear. The possibilities of this special method of information transfer can raise the sender above the anonymous mass of the information society. Strengthened by the strong shoulders of the person in front, one is tempted to tell the world one's opinions from an exposed position with greater confidence. And everything from the mouth of a hero who is classed as the pillar of integrity, will be met with unlimited attention.

Johannes Gramm's sculptural design defines itself through a multitude of artistic, social and medial aspects, lifting the sculpture from the plethora of projects that have been realized in the public space.


to the top deutsch © 2009· TIZ nederlands °