gary duehr

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In the Field

Taken in natural history museums, including the Field Museum in Chicago and the American Museum of Natural History in New York, these photographs make close contact with the animals, while including all the context of the displays: glass cages, neon tubes, elaborate descriptive labels.

It is as if the natural history dioramas are standing in for an overly mediated world, frozen in place and categorized. Yet even as the artificiality reveals itself, a kind of empathy emerges. An antelope noses the glass. A zebra peers out from a thicket. A giraffe cranes its neck against a false sky.

The creatures, for the most part, appear content, literally in their element—while the shadows of onlookers lurk at the edges. It's unclear whether the animals or humans are held captive, and on which side of the glass lies a dys- or utopia.