A crocodile basks between cardboard boxes, a horned lion stretches its snout in the air from under a tablecloth while an African ostrich stands under a lucky star. Italian photographer Louis de Belle visited a private cabinet of curiosities where he documented a bizarre array of hunting trophies, haphazardly combined in all possible manners. The photographs were shot at the invitation of the collector in his Milanese apartment. However Louis de Belle decided not to rearrange the animals, but to work with the situation he found and to interpret them as “Failed dioramas”.
Photography © Louis De Belle
Louis de Belle’s images show the animals in strange and even grotesque relationships with the furnishings in the apartment. This unusual insight into a private collection documents, on the one hand, the failure of the collector to stage the trophies by the known rules of the art. Moreover the photographs can be interpreted in the tradition of the Tierstück, literally “animal piece”, which developed in the painting of the 16th century as a genre of still-life. Louis de Belle’s work brings this form of representation up to date in a contemporary context. As historical still-lives his photographs show the animals as part of arranged object ensembles. They reveal wonderfully framed dialogues, such as the one of the gazzelle skull with the motorcycle helmet, in which the artist – with good humour – alludes to a comparative anatomy between the human and the animal.
The series has been exhibited as a photographic installation: an assemblage of cardboard boxes of different sizes and heights, on top of which were laid the prints under glass.
On the occasion of the solo exhibition Failed Dioramas at Tieranatomisches Theater der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, curated by Felix Sattler, a catalogue has been released in a numbered and signed edition of 50 copies. Each of them is printed on 100% recyclable kraft paper, resembling the cardboard boxes of the installation. Available at LUCIA Verlag.