CEPA Gallery
Lori Nix June 25 - August 27, 2011

Unnatural History

"Unnatural History" examines the framework of the Natural History Museum dioramas and their intentions. The dioramas are designed to entertain as well as educate by displaying animals and situations from nature that are not normally accessible to the average person. The depths of the ocean, mountain tops, and animals in the midst of the hunt are all on view with great attention to the details of each scene.

My reinterpretation of these dioramas, the basic idea remains the same but the details are askew. The photographs present a behind the scenes look at how the dioramas are created, but getting all the facts right is not my concern. The secrets that are revealed are often wrong. The mastodon is papier mache, the angler fish is not self-illuminating but instead requires a ‘jump start’ from a battery, and pre-historic spiders once rivaled humans in scale.

The black and white photographs are presented formally, as if they are purely documentation, and with enough detail to provide the illusion of truth. Upon closer inspection, you realize that things aren’t quite what they seem at first glance. They play on the expectations we have for museums as places of serious research and authority. They are close, but not quite, and these discrepancies add to the fun.

The City

I consider myself a faux landscape photographer. I build meticulously detailed model environments, and then photograph the results. Through the photographic process the fictional scene is transformed into a surreal space, where scale, perspective, and the document of the photograph create a tension between the material reality of the scene and the impossibility of the depicted narrative. In this space, between evidence and plot, the imagination of the viewer is unlocked, engaged, and provoked. I want for my scenes to convey rich, complex, detailed, and, ultimately, open-ended narratives.

Several common themes prevail throughout my work: the constructed photograph, the landscape in turmoil, and danger married to humor. I present these elements as the raw materials of stories with messages, but without conclusions.

The photographs I create do not reflect the tradition of the grand idyllic landscape. Rather than showing the beautiful or heroic vista, I look to the darker corners of life. I am interested in the forces of entropy, in the ruins left in the wake of human portence of grandeur. My scenes are usually devoid of people and this emptiness becomes an important element. In this way, the impact of civilization is shown by what remains in the absence of humans. Evidence of humans may still be visible, but the cause for their absence is left unclear, allowing the viewer to complete the narrative.

In my current series The City, I focus on the ruins of urban landscapes. I have chosen the spaces that celebrate modern culture, knowledge, and innovation: the theater, the museum, and the vaccuum cleaner showroom. Here the monuments of civilization and material culture are abandoned, in a state of decay and ruin, with natural elements such as plants, insects, and animals beginning to re-populate the spaces. This idea of paradise lost, or the natural world reclaiming itself, becomes more forceful as we face greater environmental challenges in the world around us.

For more information visit: www.lorinix.net

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