Degree­co­ordin­ates, Shared traits of the Hom­inini (humans, bonobos and chim­pan­zees), 2015

In col­lab­or­a­tion with Volk­er Sommer
Vinyl let­ter­ing on wall
508 × 200 cm
Design by Mod­ern Activity
Com­mis­sioned and pro­duced by Haus der Kul­turen der Welt, HKW, Ber­lin, Ger­many as part of the exhib­i­tion Ape Culture’

The work presents a cata­log of ques­tions about traits of our beha­viour and ana­tomy. As it is, the same answers are pos­sible for all mem­bers of what bio­lo­gists call Hom­inini’ – a tribe’ of apes that includes humans, bonobos and chim­pan­zees. Thus, pos­sible responses do not define dif­fer­ences between these spe­cies, chal­len­ging the idea that humans are unique’. Instead, the mix­ture of answers high­lights dis­tinc­tions and sim­il­ar­it­ies between indi­vidu­al mem­bers of the Hom­inini, nev­er mind their spe­cies. Our replies hence reveal per­son­al cul­tur­al bound­ar­ies that we share with some human or non-human apes, but not others.
Dif­fer­ences are of degree, not of kind” (Charles Darwin). 

Volk­er Som­mer is Pro­fess­or of Evol­u­tion­ary Anthro­po­logy in the Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don. His research interests focus on the evol­u­tion of prim­ate social and sexu­al beha­viour, cog­ni­tion, rituals, biod­iversity con­ser­va­tion, anim­al rights and evol­u­tion­ary ethics.

photo cred­it: Ape Cul­ture, 30.4. – 6.7.2015, Install­a­tion view, © Laura Fiorio / Haus der Kul­turen der Welt



Do you like the taste of sugar?
Do you get apprehensive?
Is the dent­al for­mula for each quad­rant of your mouth: 2 incisors, 1 can­ine, 2 pre­mol­ars, 3 molars?
Can you per­form acrobatics?
Do you keep tools for future use?
Do you have abstract thoughts?
Do you use sex toys?
(Male) Does your scro­tum hang freely?
Can you wade in water?
(Male) Can you be sure you are the fath­er of your children?
Do you pout?
Do you anti­cip­ate social reper­cus­sions for your­self and others?
Are you adopted?
Are you promiscuous?
Does your eye have a bony sock­et enclos­ing it?
Can you walk on all fours?
Are you affectionate?
Do you feel compassion?
Do you like to watch the sunset?
Do you make rep­res­ent­a­tion­al art?
Can you walk on two feet?
Are you agreeable?
Do you form concepts?
Does your brain have two halves?
Do you bare your teeth as an aggress­ive gesture?
Do you break alli­ances between people for your own gain?
Do you eat roots?
Do you have a concept of self?
Do you have sex for pleasure?
Do you catch colds?
Do you make your bed?
Do you get angry?
Do you have a cre­at­ive imagination?
Do you eat soil?
Do you have collarbones?
Do you offer an open hand when begging?
Do you annoy others?
Do you get sad?
Can you run?
Do you appease others?
Do you ever fear the unknown?
Can your shoulder rotate 360 degrees?
Do you anticipate?
Can you stand upright?
Do you get coughs?
Would you bite as an aggress­ive / defens­ive act?
Do you have an aver­sion to things that in the past have scared you?
Do you teach others?
Might you devel­op cancer?
Do you care for your body?
Do you use touch to bond with others?
Are you aggressive?
Do you play on your own?
Have you ever had diarrhoea?
Do you com­mu­nic­ate with ges­tures and voice?
Do you help others?
Are you friendly?
Can you scream?
Does the col­our of your face dif­fer from that of others?
Do you resolve con­flicts using sex?
Do you live cooper­at­ively in a group?
Do you have a sense of fairness?
Do you soli­cit sex?
Is your face unique?
Do you eat your own shit?
Do you use toys?
Do you get frustrated?
Do you stroke others?
(Female) Do you orgasm?
Do you eat people?
Can you generalise?
Do you get fungal infections?
Do you show your dom­in­ance of oth­ers by char­ging at them?
Do you use courtship?
Are you generous?
Do you use hammers?
Are your eyes at the front of your face?
Do you chuckle?
Do you cre­ate new rituals?
Do you feel joy?
Do you bully?
Do you use cooper­at­ive hunt­ing skills?
Do you par­ti­cip­ate in cul­tur­al traditions?
Do you help others?
Do you scav­enge for food?
Does your skin have hair on it?
Do you help mem­bers of oth­er species?
Do you enjoy community?
Are you hostile?
Do you get haemorrhoids?
Do you drink urine?
Are you hygienic?
Do you itch?
Do you have het­ero­sexu­al sex?
Do you cry?
Is there someone you admired and fol­lowed’ in adolescence?
Do you have ima­gin­at­ive play?
Do you scream dur­ing sex?
Do you get hiccoughs?
Do you drum?
Do you have food-related sex?
Do you use sex as aggression?
Do you have homo­sexu­al sex?
Do you have friends?
Do you throw your shit?
Do you under­stand the rela­tion­ship between things?
Do you sus­tain eye contact?
Do you lack an extern­al tail?
Do you hug?
Is your group territorial?
Are you inventive?
Do you eat your vomit?
(Female) Can you lact­ate? Do you suf­fer men­tal and phys­ic­al pain?
Do you have ten fin­gers and ten toes?
Do you kiss with an open mouth?
Do you feel sym­pathy for others?
Do you get ulcers or sores?
Do you use your tongue when you kiss?
Do cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences cause you to sep­ar­ate from oth­ers and join dif­fer­ent social groups?
Are you tender?
Are your toes webbed?
Do you eat leaves?
Do you form coali­tions with your siblings?
Are you territorial?
Will your hair whiten with age?
If you are cut do you lick the wound?
Do you have social awareness?
Are you tolerant?
Do you express rage?
Do you use wipes?
Is there a Y‑shaped groove in your mol­ar teeth?
Are you an extrovert?
Do you like watch­ing television?
Do you facil­it­ate social actions?
Do you under­stand symbols?
Is your sleep­ing area raised off the ground?
Do you have a lar­ger brain, rel­at­ive to your body size, than oth­er mammals?
Do you smack your lips?
Are you in a social hierarchy?
Do you use phys­ic­al touch to recon­cile aggress­ive incidents?
(Male) Do you force people to have sex with you?
(Female) Is it unlikely you will raise more than three off­spring to full matur­ity dur­ing your lifetime?
Do you make a cough­ing sound to indic­ate slight annoyance?
Do you solve the prob­lems of others?
Do you have vari­ous strategies to attract a partner?
Do you climb trees?
Do you make use­ful tools?
Do you exper­i­ence col­lect­ive fear?
Do you vic­tim­ise others?
Have you ever sucked your thumb?
Are you ticklish?
Do you have a personality?
Do you masturbate?
Has mater­nal depriva­tion affected your phys­ic­al development?
Do you have a fear of strangers / out­siders’?
Do you build shelters?
Are you contented?
Do you have oral sex?
Do you get bored?
Do you vary your facial expres­sions to com­mu­nic­ate dif­fer­ent messages?
Are you curious?


Are your cog­nit­ive abil­it­ies impaired because you were deprived of social con­tact dur­ing childhood?
Do you throw rocks?
Do you feel jealousy?
Can you use a bottle opener?
Do you laugh?
(Female) Do you ever yawn or self-groom dur­ing sex?
As a child did you ever play in a sexu­al way?
Do you prefer to use one hand more than the other?
Do you ini­ti­ate recon­cili­ation after a conflict?
Can you get malaria?
Do you gath­er food?
Do you live in a community?
Do you feel lethargy?
Do you whimper?
(Male) Are your testicles much lar­ger than those of a gorilla?
Do you like fruit?
Did you have a long child­hood com­pared to oth­er mammals?
Are you opportunistic?
(Male) Will you go bald with age?
Do you have a sexu­al interest in children?
Do you pre­dict consequences?
Do you par­ti­cip­ate in warfare?
(Female) Do you menstruate?
Do you demon­strate impuls­ive tendencies?
Do you feel passion?
Are you pre­oc­cu­pied with hier­archy and status?
(Female) Might you have a mis­car­riage if pregnant?
Do you share food?
Do you feel love?
Are you rational?
Do you eat meat and plants?
(Male) Can you make a flick­ing move­ment with your erect penis?
Do you manip­u­late oth­ers for your own purpose?
Do you mind who your part­ner is?
(Female) Do you ovulate?
Do you hunt in groups?
Are you undependable?
Are you viol­ent towards strangers?
Do you have oppos­ing thumbs?
Do you grunt?
Do you have reasoned thoughts?
Do you scream when you are attacked?
Do you have para­sites in or on you?
Do you clap your hands?
Do you recog­nise your­self in the mirror?
Do you have sex in the mis­sion­ary’ pos­i­tion (face to face)?
Can you get pneumonia?
Does your hair bristle / stand on end when you are scared or aroused?
Do you seek affec­tion­ate phys­ic­al contact?
Are you irrational?
Do you use sponges?
Can you get polio?
Do you imit­ate others?
Do you seek reas­sur­ance and attention?
(Male) Do you recruit women to be your partners?
Can you oper­ate touch­screen computers?
Do you see colours?
Do you have sex with mem­bers of your family?
(Male) Do you find unfa­mil­i­ar females more attractive?
Do you have a reduced sense of smell com­pared to oth­er mammals?
Do you vol­un­tar­ily sup­press your voice?
Does smell affect your sexu­al arousal?
Did your use of ges­tures increase through­out childhood?
Have you ever played aero­plane’ (sup­port­ing a child on top of your feet while lying on your back) ?
Are you neurotic?
Do you have sex doggy style’ (belly to back)?
Did you become sexu­ally mature between 10 and 13 years of age?
Do you scratch yourself?
Do you use probes?
Do you intox­ic­ate your­self (alco­hol, drugs, etc.) ?
Do you form oppor­tun­ist­ic coalitions?
Have you ever made someone bear the blame of others?
Do you vary your sexu­al positions?
Do you remem­ber things from your past?
Do you eat insects?
Do you plan in cooper­a­tion with others?
Are your par­ent­ing tech­niques dif­fer­ent from others?
Do you get sexu­ally excited?
Do you use weapons?
Have you bit­ten a penis off?
(Male) Are your erec­tions not always due to sexu­al arousal?
Do you wipe your shit off you?
Do you sneeze?
Do you use intimidation?
Does someone’s per­son­al­ity affect wheth­er they are sexu­ally attract­ive to you?
Do you have spa­tial memory?
Could you learn sign languages?
Do you sweat?
Do you feel sexu­al pleasure?
Do you invent com­plex per­form­ances to amuse yourself?
Are you miserly?
Do you tease others?
Do you sense changes in temperature?
Do you kiss?
Do you have sex with more than one part­ner? Do you make pant­ing noises dur­ing sex?
(Male) Do you ejaculate?
Do you coerce others?
Do you deceive others?
Are you scared of snakes?
Do you shake your fist to express anger?
Do you get depressed?
Do you resolve oth­ers’ conflicts?
Would you have adop­ted your young­er sib­lings if orphaned?
Do you dream dur­ing sleep?
Do you retali­ate or seek vengeance?
Do you feel desire?
(Male) Do you use your erect penis to display?
Do you smile?
Do you vocally express your pleas­ure dur­ing sex?
Do you have tem­per tantrums?
Do you grieve?
Do you eat pigs?
When you were a child did you have an insa­ti­able appet­ite for play?
Do you express your despair?
Do you steal food from others?
When you were a child did you learn by observing and imitating?
Do you have a good short-term memory?
Do you get distressed?
Do you play?
Would you adopt children?
Have you learned actions / skills that were passed to you from pre­vi­ous generations?
Do you have a good memory for individuals?
Do you dom­in­ate others?
Can you empathise?
Have you ever played rough and tumble’ or king of the mountain’?
Is your cog­nit­ive abil­ity high­er than that of most oth­er mammals?
Do you spend a lot of time socialising?
Can you do basic maths?
Are you excess­ively par­tic­u­lar or demanding?
Do you fear?
Can you play com­puter games?
Do you pat oth­ers on the back?
Do you have a lifelong bond with your mother?
Did your par­ents reject you?
Are you secretive?
Are you absent-minded?
Are you trusting?
When you need to extend your reach upwards, do you find some­thing to stand on?
Can you inhib­it your impulses?
Are you addicted to any substances?
Do you dance?
Does your voice sound dif­fer­ent to that of others?
Have you been weaned?


Vinyl let­ter­ing on wall dimen­sions vari­able, approx 508 × 200 cm

Design by Mod­ern Activity

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