The Plight of the hexapod

‘Kunstzimmer Eppendorf’ Gallery, Hamburg March 2019

With their 1.3 million different species insects are the richest class of animal there is – and they are under enormous threat. Biologists’ studies are highlighting dramatic declines in the number of bees, butterflies and other insects. In October 2017 for example German scientists published research which revealed that the biomass of flying insects in the country’s protected natural areas had fallen by over 75 percent in 27 years.

There are many reasons for this dramatic mortality rate. The main causes are land fragmentation, intensive monoculture farming, and the use of pesticides. Climate change and photo-pollution pose further threats to wildlife.

Human intervention of this kind has fatal consequences. In the absence of insects many plants go unpollinated, crops and garden fruit waste away, and harvests are threatened. Many types of bird, as well as spiders, frogs, lizards, bats, moles and hedgehogs are unable to find food. Many insects feed on dead plants and the corpses of animals. Their droppings are then processed by microbes, thus returning nutrients to the soil. This process is also disrupted. Scientists are still struggling to grasp the full extent of the damage being done to the ecosystem.

With their exhibition ‘Cheated, Condemned, Contaminated : The Death of the Insect’ Horst Güntheroth and Heinrich Hohenberg are the first to address the issue here in this country from an artistic perspective, for which Güntheroth has produced the following works: