The Books of 2013
Klaus Pichler – Skeletons in the Closet
Through the masses of work that have been celebrated and praised over2013, there is one photographer and his project about the back scenes of museums, which sticks, clearly in the front of my thoughts. The said photographer, Klaus Pichler has presented all of his hard efforts capturing the surreal and humorous scenes of the back corridors and rooms of The Natural History Museum in Vienna. The book from the start sets the scene, a small circle window on the front cover to reveal a bear poking its head through, looking at us, this not only assures us of an interesting look into this setting, but also a chance to sit and ponder amongst its ambiguity and surrealism. It is important to state, before we go any further that Pichler expresses that none of the exhibits and subjects have been moved or place, a chance of stumbling upon a weird and wonderful back entrance of the strange and unknown.
The audience from there on in, is greeted with images of taxidermies, jarred specimens and models. The tone of the book, as you make your way through the pages is that a light hearted and subtle one, the thoughts of how many magnificent creatures, which have now being shoved into a corner, raises questions. Museums like this are for educational and scientific purposes; they provide answers and chance to get closer to a various species of animals. Yet as the title suggests, Skeletons in the Closet, guilty thoughts soon begin to sink in as we question our place and stance on the killing and maintenance of the animals after they have passed. One image in particular, which stands out, full of clues and hints placed by Pichler is the Landscape painting seemingly trapped within one of the museums many corridors. It acts as a strong metaphor; a beautiful setting is depicted; yet it is un attainable to that of the inhabitants of the museum now. Its this level of wanting to be able to obtain something yet it is still out of reach, one reason why the animals are posed and manipulated by the Museum to make them feel as life like as possible yet still not quite reaching the finish line of believability.
The project not only addresses the purpose of museums as a whole, but also the strong relationship we think we have with animals, you could easily suggest certain stories developing in each image, fox’s fighting and a bear walking about the corridors as well as sharks swimming lengthy rooms and dogs patiently waiting for their master. How we view and approach the images is what makes this book and project so successful, it plays into our human nature to go of in wild directions of imagination yet places firm and fitting ideas of serious ideas and question we should discuss about our place in the world, through animal protection an conservation.
- words by Harry Rose
You can pick the book up here!