On 18th October, 2011, the sheriff of Zanesville, Ohio, got an agitated phone call: the animals that eccentric Terry Thompson was legally keeping on his ranch were roaming the county. Red alert! That night, a heavily armed police force killed more than 56 bears, tigers, wolves, leopards and lions. Thompson had opened the cages, shot himself and offered his body as food to the animals. So far, so good, so American.
British media artist Ramon Bloomberg has turned this bizarre incident into a Brechtian story. Bloomberg combines Brecht’s play “The Yes Sayer” about traditional custom and formalised law with the American settler’s anarchical logic of freedom which fights every kind of state influence as an infringement on individual freedom: I am the lord of my animals, my land, my house, my family. End of story!
Bloomberg translates epic theatre into the language of film in the age of Play Station games. Real live shots are combined with images from the police car’s video camera, Google Earth data mining sequences and computer animated re-enactments. We hear minutes and statements of everyone involved as well as a comment taking the form of an (antique) chorus, the voice of the law, the neighbour and the animal. The only voice we don’t hear is Terry Thompson’s. His motives remain a big secret. Matthias Heeder, DOKLeipzig
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