Eyes Open Slowly
Eyes Open Slowly employs the prism of taxidermy to investigate the tangled and often paradoxical relationship between human and animal. The work speaks to the common nature of human life and animal life and how that commonality is manifested in our shared destiny of death.
Animals are naturally magnetic and taxidermy perpetuates our ability to experience the aura of animal presence by providing an intimate experience that is impossible in real life. The animal/object dichotomy of taxidermy can be unsettling and disorienting. We are in awe of what appears to be animal, yet the actual animal is gone. Death is inherent to taxidermy and so a sense of loss or grief is part of each encounter.
Since 2013 I have been photographing in a taxidermy shop owned by an 85-year old expert taxidermist who has kept his shop in continuous operation for over 67 years. The shop itself is breathtaking. A massive amalgam of cavernous rooms, each overflows with residue from decades of working with animal skins. The diverse clientele of the shop reflects the complexity of our entangled relationship with animals. Prominent natural history museums, the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service, wealthy game hunters, international franchise steakhouses, and local trophy seekers -- all procure mounting services from the shop.
I have entered this world to investigate the idea of animal essence and the emotional and psychological complexities that arise from reanimations of that essence. Whether capturing animals in the process of becoming or deploying abstraction to problematize the reading of surface, the work uncovers our human longings and desires to connect to the natural world while, at the same time, it questions our irreconcilable urge to possess and immortalize it.