HR Giger's Biomechanoid III, 1974,
memories of the Egyptian mummy at
the Rätisches Museum of Chur?

leading from

Biomechanoid III, 1974


a) The mummy at the museum
Giger found inspiration in Ancient Egyptian art from an early age. When he was about six years, 
his elder sister Iris took him to see the mummy at the Rätisches Museum in Chur. The mummy was down in the basement with the amputated hands and feet that they kept there, he was very afraid but Iris laughed at him. This so hurt his childish pride that every Sunday he would go to see the mummy before closing time and stand in front of the mummy. He saw it as beautiful and imagined it to be a princess and her sarcophagus. The mummy that they had there was Ta-di-Isis, a woman who was found to have died approximately middle aged, dated back to the 26th Dynasty ( around 650 BC) and came from Thebes-West and her mummified body that is known to reside in the Rhaetian Museum of Chur today

The Ta-di-Isis mummy as seen in the documentary "Dark Star: HR Gigers Welt"

b) Old smell of a mummy
Giger noted that she had an old smell and it fascinated him and those memories became an inspiration for him when he start to draw and use the airbrush. Later when he held a show in the museum of Chur, he was to present the mummy as something that inspired him. He appreciated how that in ancient Egyptian ancient, death was an important part of the culture and they would present it in the form of mummies and so on . 
 
scan of Tah-Di-Isis

c) Comparison between Ta-di-Isis mummy and Biomechanoid III
It can be said that Giger's experience with the mummy shows through most of his work but because of what Giger mentioned about the odour of the mummy and also what his wife widow Carmen has said about the experiences with the mummy at the museum shining through his work. But I thought about Giger's Biomechanoid III, which shows at the centre, something similar to a sarcophagus, with the lower part of a female face but oddly no upper part as if it had broken off. To this, breathing tubes of a gang of biomechanoids can be seen connected. It brings me to think of the idea of Giger inhaling the odour of the mummy.  Seeing the connection there made me want to put two and two together ever since I read what Giger had said in an interview. But curiously only her upper face is shown when she is unwrapped slightly for the Dark Star documentary, and in Biomechanoid III, only the lower face is shown. So this makes me think about how Giger sometimes work and if he provided the lower part of the face without the upper because he had seen the upper part of the face



Book cover for Die Mumie der Ta-di-Isis

Source Quotes
  1. HR Giger: An existence better never begun. Many of my works reflect this state of hopeless enslavement which leaves no room for religious beliefs. My childhood memories of the civic museum in Chur also belong within this context. There Egyptian mummies were exhibited along with amputated hands and feet. (Giger ARh+)
  2. Vincent Castiglia- - Co uważasz za źródło największej inspiracji?
    HR Giger- Starożytnych Egipcjan. Gdy miałem ok. 6 lat, co niedzielę chodziłem do muzeum w Chur. W piwnicy trzymali tam piękną mumię. Miała stary zapach i to mnie fascynowało. Później, gdy zacząłem rysować i używać airbrush, tamto wspomnienie było dla mnie dużą inspiracją. Potem postarałem się, aby na mojej wystawie w muzeum w Chur była mumia egipskiej księżniczki i jej sarkofag. W ten sposób chciałem ludziom pokazać, co mnie inspiruje. W sztuce egipskiej jest dużo śmierci – w mumiach, czaszkach etc. W mojej twórczości też. Poza tym sposób, w jaki robię portrety jest typowo egipski – przedstawiam widok od przodu i z boku (Tatuaz #28, May 2008)
    Google Translation-

    Vincent Castiglia--What do you think is the biggest source of inspiration?
    HR Giger
    -- Ancient Egyptians. When I was about six years, every Sunday I went to the museum in Chur. In the basement there kept beautiful mummy. She had an old smell, and it fascinated me. Later, when I started to draw and use the airbrush, those memories for me was a big inspiration. Then I tried to make on my show in museum in Chur was the mummy of an Egyptian princess and her sarcophagus. In this way, I wanted to show people what inspires me. In Egyptian art is a lot of death - in mummies, skulls etc.. In my work, too. Besides, the way I'm doing portraits is typically Egyptian - present the view from the front and side (Tatuaz #28, May 2008)
  3. Vincent Castiglia--Co byś poradził artystom szukającym własnych środków wyrazu? HR Giger-- W dzisiejszych czasach jest o wiele trudniej znaleźć swój własny styl jako artysta. Wydaje się, że każdy styl, każden punkt widzenia w sztuce został już przez kogoś zutylizowany. Gdy byłem młodszy, nie było telewizji ani internetu. Dzisiaj media propagują i rozpowszechniają wszystko. Już nie ma co odkrywać. Ja sam np. zaadoptowałem styl egipski i nie wiem, co innym pozostało?! Wszystko już było. W komputerze i w sieci są pewnie możliwości odkrycia czegoś nowego i znalezienia innych stylów. Ja nie mam pojęcia o komputerach, więc może ktoś inny coś tam nowego wypatrzy. (Tatuaz #28, May 2008) Google Translation-
    Vincent Castiglia- - - What would be your advice to artists looking for their own means of expression?
    -HR Giger- Nowadays, it is much harder to find your own style as an artist. It seems that every style, every point of view in art has already been disposed of by someone. When I was younger, there was no television or Internet. Today, the media promote and disseminate all. Already there is nothing to discover. I myself, for example, I adopted Egyptian style and do not know what else is left? Everything has been done. The computer and the network is probably the ability to discover something new and find other styles. I do not have a clue about computers, so maybe someone else will spot something new. (Tatuaz #28, May 2008)
  4. Carmen Giger : Seine Schwester nahm ihn mit in das Rätische Museum. Dort gab es eine Mumie, unten im Keller.  Er hatte grosse Angst, aber seine Schwester Iris lachte ihn aus. Das hat ihn dermassen in seinem kindlichen Stolz verletzt, dass er immer sonntags kurz vor Schluss allein hinging und vor der Mumie stand. Wer Hansruedi und seinen Charakter ein wenig kennt, weiss, dass er etwas so lange macht, bis es klappt. Entweder bis er die Angst verliert oder er zeichnet etwas, bis es geht. Er hat diese Stetigkeit, die Angst zu überwinden. Man sieht aber, wie eindrücklich das Ereignis gewesen sein muss, denn es scheint durch sein ganzes Werk hindurch. Das ist das Weibliche, Überhöhte, dass es eine Prinzessin ist, und dann ist es eine Mumie, das ist das ägyptische Element, und dann ist es der Tod, also die Knochen und die Ewigkeit, die im Tod steckt. (Translation: His sister took him in the Rhaetian Museum. There was a mummy, down in the basement. He was very afraid, but his sister Iris laughed at him. This has so hurt him in his childish pride, that he went every Sunday shortly before the closing alone and stood in front of the mummy. Who knows Hansruedi and his character a little, knows that he is doing something for so long, until it works. Either to him the fear loses or he draws something until it goes. He has this consistency, to overcome the fear. One sees but how impressive the event must have been, because it shines through all his work. This is the female, excessive, that it is a princess, and then it's a mummy, which is the Egyptian element, and then there is death, so the bones and the eternity that lies in death.(Dark Star: HR Gigers Welt)

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