Menagerie is an investigation of how animals have been viewed through the scientific lens of natural history museums. Taxidermy specimens are a direct link to 19th-century curiosity for discovery and understanding of an unknown world. The art of taxidermy grew out of exploration that brought back animals from exotic places to amaze and entertain a public that would otherwise never set eyes on these creatures. Animals captured in far off places often died during travel, so it became necessary to preserve their bodies for display. Taxidermy satisfied the urge to collect and display the wonders of the world before the invention of photography.
In the museums where I photograph, the natural world lives in a selected and contrived artwork masquerading as nature. There is a paradox for viewers who want to know about nature, yet encounter it in a wholly constructed non-natural environment. I experience these animals both aesthetically and existentially–seduced by their beauty and jarred by their artificiality.