THOMAS RABISCH– A QUAGGA IS NOT AN ITEM OF SPORTING EQUIPMENT
Thomas Rabisch was born 1967 in Erfurt. He studied painting at Burg Giebichenstein
University of Art and Design, Halle and, in a further course of studies, graphics
and sculpture. The installation artist lives and works in Halle (Saale), most of
the time with the work being related to particular topics and locations.
Gymnastics are classifieds exercises on standardised apparatus. Friedrich Ludwig
Jahn, also known as Father of gymnastics, was the founder of the gymnastics movement
in Germany and is still honoured for this reason. He promoted physical exercise as
a condition for healthy thinking. A young man is seen to be a body which can be trained
and hence form the basis of a sensible attitude towards life. The means and the purpose
are both elements of the programme.
In 1811, in Berlin-Hasenheide, Jahn founded the first public outdoor gymnasium in
Germany. Much of the gymnastic apparatus used today was invented by him. For example,
the horse. At the beginning it even had a neck and tail but in the course of time
the neck shrank and the tail fell off. But for a long time a difference was still
made between the front and rear by means of a sloping edge underneath the front end.
Later on even this difference disappeared, and the horse now looks the same from
left-to-right as it does right-to-left, just like a sausage.
The so-called pommel horse, looking with its two upright grips more like a camel
than a horse, is still used in competitions but the vaulting horse has almost died
out. In 2001 it was replaced in international competitions by the vaulting table,
exactly 100 years after the quagga, a type of zebra finally became extinct. The quagga,
a sub-species or related species of the zebra, resembled a zebra only between the
head and the shoulders. The last quagga kept in captivity died in the year 1883,
and a short time later, in 1901, the last small herd of quaggas was seen in southern
Africa. Since then it is assumed to have died out. In that same year Halle Zoo opened
its gates. Is it too far-fetched to assume a connection between these two occurrences?
Completely off course:
Coach gave the go-ahead
But avoiding the horse
I put the shot instead
In 1982, 99 years after the last quagga had died in captivity, the 14-year-old Thomas
Rabisch managed a distance of 13.3m when putting the (4 kg) shot – the year's best
for the whole of North Erfurt for this athletic event. On the other hand he was not
at all interested in gymnastics with apparatus.
We have good reason to celebrate and commemorate – several anniversaries this year
are the occasion for doing so:
200 years of gymnastics in Germany
110 years of a world without the quagga but with the Halle Mountain Zoo
10 years of a world without the vaulting horse at international gymnastic events
The "Art for Animals" exhibition will open 15 October 2011, the 149th anniversary
of the death of Father Jahn. On this occasion, at Halle Mountain Zoo, leaping quaggers
will be seen, the first of these species to be seen just standing around. Lost in
thought, Father Jahn with his striking beard will also be there – in the compound
for horses. A shot will be lying around somewhere. An information board will show
the development over time of these really unacceptable associations!