In the artist's words:
"I am interested in the ways we objectify nature, both positively and negatively. The dancing, happy pigs used as icons for BBQ joints and meatpacking plants have always struck me as deeply ironic. Plastic animals take us for rides in theme parks and animated versions sell us products. Nature comes to us, viewed through glass windows at the zoo, natural history museum or framed on television. Likewise, the photograph objectifies the world as seen through the lens of the camera.
We visit natural history museums for a glimpse of our natural world, a world we often do not experience first hand. We view animals from far off places and times at a safe distance. Dioramas (and photographs) create a framed moment of nature frozen in time. The more closely they resemble an actual space and event, the more closely the taxidermied animals appear to breath life, the deeper our sense of wonder and connection.
These UnNatural History Portraits display the taxidermied animal portrait in larger-than-life scale and gazing directly at the viewer. They seek to raise the status of the animal, much in the same way that historical portrait paintings of the aristocracy are displayed within the museum. These photographs ask the viewer to confront the animal’s history as a living being and their subsequent treatment in death.
It is this dichotomy between the real and the unreal, the version of life portrayed and the actuality of death, which finds me both attracted and repelled."
© 2014 Diane Fox
Diane Fox (b. 1954, New York, New York) is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Architecture and Design at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she teaches photography and graphic design courses. Images from “UnNatural History” are cited in Giovanni Aloi’s book Art and Animals published by I.B. Tauris & Co. in 2012 and Taxidermy by Alexis Turner published by Thymes and Hudson in 2013. Solo exhibits of this work have been shown in a variety of spaces including at the Erie Art Museum, Erie, PA; Tower Fine Arts Gallery, SUNY Brockport, Brockport, NY; Greyfriars Art Space in Norfolk, England; Dom Muz Gallery, Torun, Poland; and Santa Reparata Gallery, Florence, Italy. Selected pieces have been exhibited in several juried shows including the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Los Angeles, CA; See.me Gallery, New York, NY; the Camera Club of New York, New York, NY; the Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL; and Prix de la Photographie in Paris, France.