The sculptural transformation nevertheless involves the total destruction of the original body to create a new hybrid reality that has nothing to do with the living beings the material was taken from. Moessinger brings to light this fact and makes it the primary theme of her artwork. Because of the proportional distortions of the cuddly toys, it is necessary to use several skins for the configuration of just one object. She needs the bodies of up to five individuals of the same colour and fur texture to make one convicing artefact. This multiplication is significant: one single animal is not enough to represent all the things we project into it.
Moessinger’s work addresses the brutal handling of animals in the commercial context. She chooses a witty and dressed-up approach to do so because she feels that the unadorned take on the same subject would be unbearable.
It is clear from first sight that there is something wrong with Moessinger’s cuddly toys. For artworks that do not quite seem right, Steve Baker has coined the phrase ‘botched taxidermy’ which he applies to works with a cobbled-together identity: ‘The look of the postmodern animal’, he writes, ‘seems more likely to be that of a fractured awkward, “wrong” or wronged thing, which it is hard not to be read as a means of addressing what it is to be human now...’ Baker explains that those artists who produce embodiments of ‘botched taxidermy’ with their animal images question the notion of identity. He reads them primarly as sculptural realisations of a deconstructivist world view. Moessinger’s sculptures also bring up questions concerning the difference between nature and culture, presentation and representation and the authenticity of such concepts. What irritates the beholder most are probably the dimensions of her work, the showing of the stiches that hold everything together as well as the deformed proportions of the cuddly toys that introduce creepiness into a childhood world that seems to be whole and familiar. According to Sigmund Freud’s famous study of 1919 the uncanny is precisely the mode of the spooky that goes back to the well-known and the ever-intimate. Freud identifies the uncanny effect as resulting from instances of ‘repetition of the same thing’, and from doubts about whether a lifeless object might be, in fact, animate. I would argue that the paradoxical being of Moesssinger’s adaptations of cuddly toys bear the notion of the uncanny and unhomely where something familiar feels uncomfortably strange. Her point of departure is as I said the highly complex phenomenon of the cuddly pet that in itself bears some subversive energy. They are commodity goods used for childhish satisfaction of needs, fetishised bedfellows or obedient and replaceable playmates. All in all they are deeply ambivalent. The very same species that become cuddly pets are used for clothing and food as well. They are said to be miniature versions of real animals but bear hardly any resemblance to their models except for a grotesque formal likeness. Even though many cuddly toys are wild animals, bears or lions for example, they are stripped of everything that might be wild or menacing. They lack their sexual organs, claws and teeth and they can be dominated even by the smallest children. So they not only mirror the values of their manufacturers but also the common treatment of our pets that are mostly also castrated, neutered, groomed, or manipulated in other ways. Moessinger’s sculptures reveal that not only are cuddly toys used as objects but also living animals can be designed anatomically and culturally at the discretion of humans. Furthermore she shows the parallels of living model and virtual copy: both are potentially mass products, docile objects of composition, economic goods and rechargeable with almost any given meaning.
Moessinger calls her sculptures ‘hybrids of the natural manifestation of a living being and the human construction of this living being in a commercial context.’ She takes the commercial character of animals into account as well as the reduction of a living entity to the point that it becomes a mere usable, dead or living material as stock of fat, leather provider, object of research, implement or piece of sports equipment.
In a double sense, physically and formally, her sculptures serve as visual signs for animality that above all demonstrate human beliefs and ideas of the animal and express a critique of human use and misuse of animals.