Justine Cooper was the first artist-in-residence at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. During her residency, she explored the back passageways, storage rooms, and specimen cases where the majority of the museum's collection is stored. Cooper documented what she saw using a wood 4x5 view camera from 1910. Her huge photographs are a stunning testament to the wonder and oddity of nature as we collect it. Cooper's show, Saved By Science, at the Kashya Hildebrand gallery in New York closed today, but much of the work can be viewed online. (Seen here: Trophies | 30" x 39") From the press release and artist statement:
Sheer optical exuberance surfaces from a set of Graphium sarpedon butterflies. In the Victorian attic a group of donated ex-Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Brothers Circus seals, swathed in plastic wrap, await their departure to climate-controlled storage. The 21st century liquid nitrogen cooled frozen tissue collection holds a million specimens in a room the size of a studio apartment. Immense corridors of locked steel storage cabinets most powerfully express the veil of structure dropped over the complexity of nature...Link (Thanks, Heather Sparks!)
The photographs present the stored collections as both an evolution of the collecting and storing process, and as an historical and contemporary perspective on how we systematize and assign value to nature.