Specere II: Tableaux Vivants

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“[E]ach diorama presents itself as a side alter, a stage, an unspoiled garden in nature…inviting the visitor to share in its revelation, which tells the truth. Each offers a vision. Each is a window onto knowledge”.

[Donna Haraway]


This project explores the stagecraft of the museum diorama display. Created as a counter-project to Specere II: Fixing the Shadows which explores the fragility of preservation and the taxidermied construct, these photographs, like the museum, aim to create a suspension disbelief. By retouching and removing glass reflections or any visible signs of display’s construct and producing these photographs as large-scale colour vinyl prints, the prints sustain what Sam Alberti calls the museum’s “meticulous verisimilitude” – a likeness of lifelikeness beyond death – we want to believe what we see.

The photographs were taken at various natural history museums, namely, The Field Museum in Chicago, Morrill Hall in Nebraska and the Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent. Photographs were also taken of the dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History in New York but due to copyright restrictions over the dioramas I am not permitted to display them here.

These photographs are presented as large-scale self-adhesive vinyl prints of variable size dependent on the exhibition space.