“I’ve been collecting anonymous photographs for many years. During a retreat on the Toronto Islands, I had all these pictures and thought about these lost identities.
Photography has this innate promise that we can take a picture of someone and keep it. But overtime, these pictures somehow become dislodged from their origins, and the people photographed are lost.
There’s a theory from ancient times that says, ‘To capture a memory is like trying to capture a bird in an aviary of birds.
Most of these works are made from cartes de visite, which is a 19th century photographic process invented by André Disdéri in France. They were visiting cards people would trade amongst family and friends – sort of the Facebook of its day.
During the Victorian period, photographers would go out into the world and use cameras to capture everything: animals, exotic people and places. At the same time, there was the capturing of exotic animals.
I started looking at this idea of how the camera aided colonization: our sense of entitlement over other beings and creatures without a critical understanding of what that entitlement meant. The camera, in a way, was an extension of that attitude.
By producing a human-bird creature, I’m marrying the history of what was going on in that period. I’m creating these hybrid beings that sit somewhere between the human and the bird, but also look at the natural history of that time.
All the birds that I photographed in the Royal Ontario Museum’s collection for this series are North-American and are extinct or endangered. Other than the dinosaur, it was the first time that I ever sat in front of a creature that was extinct.
The image is almost life-size. The head of the person or bird is almost as big as your head. There’s a more bodily experience when you see the work in person. It has a different kind of presence.”
Sara Angelucci, Aviary, 2013
with thanks to Wondereur