And it’s useless to close your eyes in the shadows,
to sink them in sleep so they’ll not keep seeing,
for in the hardening shadows, the cave of dreams,
the same nocturnal light will wake you again.
— Xavier Villaurrutia,
“Nocturne: Fear,” Nostalgia for Death
Eyes Open Slowly 2013 - 2016
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 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.
Whether photographing animals in the process of “becoming” or deploying abstraction to complicate the reading of surface, the work uncovers our deep-seated 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.