September 9, 2019 — January 26, 2020
(Open during Denver Central Library public hours)
This artwork is a part of MONUMENTAL, a wider project curated by Black Cube in partnership with The Denver Theatre District. Special thanks to the Denver Public Library (Central Branch) for hosting this sculpture.
Monument for the 308 is a 24-foot-tall sculpture by German artist Andreas Greiner that resembles a dinosaur skeleton in a natural history museum. However, the animal depicted is a common Ross 308 broiler chicken and is not extinct like its prehistoric ancestor, the Archaeopteryx. Today, these chickens are bred in staggering numbers with an anatomy manipulated to serve human meat consumption. Monument for the 308 pays tribute to an animal species of our time and acknowledges the reciprocal dependency between broiler chickens and humans.
Additional thanks to the architect, Diogo Vale, and fabricators Dmitri Obergfell and Caleb Hanhe, as well as the art installers, Demiurge, for reconstructing this sculpture on site. MONUMENTAL is funded in part by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and the David and Laura Merage Foundation.
What is a Ross 308 chicken? This monumental sculpture pays tribute to an animal species of our time: the Ross 308 broiler chicken. This hybrid type of fast-growing poultry was developed in the 1950s in order to satisfy the needs of the food industry. Thanks to specially mixed feed, the broiler chickens grow to the required weight and size for slaughter in approximately thirty days. Given their unnatural physiology and life conditions, these kinds of fast-growing chickens often contract a number of diseases.
How was this sculpture made? Andreas Greiner created this sculpture by x-ray scanning a broiler chicken. Then, the artist used 3D printing technology to print each individual bone twenty times larger than its original life size. This monument was produced in collaboration with research institutions (TH Wildau) and medical organizations (Charité, Berlin). The sculptural installation was preceded by a research process which made use of scientific testing technology and imaging processes such as computed tomography (CT) scans. While on display, a metal armature holds the 3D printed bones together.
What is this sculpture a monument to? Monument for the 308 is a monument to the human impact on the planet, specifically a sculptural monument to the Anthropocene—a newly proposed geological epoch that marks the point when human impacts on much of the Earth's geological processes became overwhelmingly indisputable to geologists worldwide. Many in the field say that the chicken is an apt mascot for the Anthropocene, as modern meat chickens have changed dramatically from their ancestors in their presence around the globe, production and consumptions by humans, locations of their remains, and the genetic changes which include the meat to bone ratio.
Why is this artwork at the library? This artwork is positioned within the Denver Central Library because it relates to the surrounding context—a place for human knowledge. The artwork focuses on human’s impact on the world, as seen through the genetic changes this animal has experienced because of humans. Furthermore, Monument for the 308 positions the broiler chicken in relation to the method in which we display reconstructed dinosaur skeletons. Thus, this artwork illustrates a connection between relics of a past geologic era with future relics of the human era.
What is MONUMENTAL? Andreas Greiner’s Monument for the 308 is a part of MONUMENTAL, a series of public, contemporary artworks and community engagement programs that explore, question, and transform the role monuments play within society. This project is coproduced by Black Cube (a nomadic contemporary art museum) and The Denver Theatre District, with artworks curated by Black Cube.
Photo Credit: Third Dune Productions