Previous Exhibition

29/10/2021 - 31/12/2022

Trojan Donkey

For the exhibition ‘Pitching Itself a tent where all may enter’, Stephen Wilks created a new donkey with traditional fabric manufactured in Portugal by Fabrical in Monsaraz. The donkey made its presence at the opening of the exhibition, before heading on a journey through Portugal.

The idea is that it will go to other museums, schools or even people’s homes and collect their memories and stories. These will be carried by the donkey and passed from place to place into the hands of others. This is a work that pays homage to, not only a slow experience of time, attentive to the journey and the meeting of the other, but also the local handicraft, with the donkey made locally, embroidered ‘Portuguese style’.

For this exhibition Wilks says: ‘Often people ask me about when the donkey project will finish, it’s a cumulative work and the whole theme of the donkeys traveling keeps generating new ideas.’

Stephen Wilks
(1964, UK) Lives and works in Berlin

Stephen Wilks is fascinated by the anthropomorphic iconography, in which human characteristics are ascribed to animals, like in his projects Animal Farm and Trojan Donkey.

Wilks organized street parades, with larger-than-life animals that were carried by people on hands. The issue of corruption of ideals is at the fore-front of the questions raised: ‘All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others’. During ‘Trojan Donkey’, Wilks carried a life-sized stuffed donkey on his back. The donkey travelled around the world and stayed with people who in their turn gave the donkey a personal message. ‘Wearing a donkey on the back’ refers not only to regional English slang, but also to humor noir, described by Surrealist André Breton (1935). The donkey as a beast of burden, which in many cultures is associated with poverty, becomes a major significance in the work of Wilks is.

In the exhibition A Rooster Alone Does Not Weave The Dawn’, Quetzal Art Center showed Stephen Wilkes’ ‘Donkey Roundabout’, which symbolized all the different donkeys that travel the world, poetically alluding to the rotation of history and stories told and passed on orally.


More information about other Trojan Donkey projects of Stephen Wilks.
Special thanks to Mizette Nielsen who gave us the beautiful fabric for the project.