Eyes Open Slowly 2013 - present
Eyes Open Slowlyemploys 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 possess a natural magnetism and taxidermy perpetuates the illusion of animal presence, providing an intimate experience that is impossible in real life. Yet 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.
These images were made in a taxidermy shop owned by an 88-year old expert taxidermist who has kept his shop in continuous operation for over 70 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 our entanglements. 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.
Whether photographing animals in the process of “becoming” or deploying abstraction to complicate the reading of surface, the work uncovers our longing to connect to the natural world. At the same time, it questions our urge to possess and immortalize it through the act of killing.