Daniel Theiler

sculpture, polymer clay, 20x10x4cm, 2019

The US is a country of immigrants. Many are unaware of their precise heritage and use genealogy to find out more about their origins. While still a relatively new tool, DNA test are booming in the US. Such tests group the user’s DNA into different countries of origin. During the artist’s stay in Chicago, he was told by a taxi driver that he had learned from his DNA test that he was related to Napoleon Bonaparte. Test results can be very diverse for US citizens because people from many different backgrounds have settled there. In a humorous interpretation of what constitutes German heritage, the artist presents an artificial looking sausage dipped in sickly-yellow mustard. Similar to the way in which a DNA test breaks down and essentializes heritage as an artificial category for identification, the sculpture alludes to cultural stereotypes. While in the past the ideal of the melting pot was one of the foundational myths of US American society, in the current political climate such utopian ideals seem far away.