I got a chance to see the Richard Barnes exhibit at Hosfelt Gallery the other day. The show consists of two bodies of work, Animal Logic and Murmur. The photographs from Animal Logic explore the installation and preservation of animals and fossils at natural history museums. These images examine the historical and scientific indexing of species throughout the ages, simultaneously drawing attention to the way in which they are viewed and understood. The formal manner in which Barnes has photographed these installations mimics the way they are ultimately viewed upon completion. The museum experience exudes a rigid formality that constantly inhibits the proximity and intimacy of the viewer to the subject. There are always barriers we are not allowed to cross, glass cases we are not permitted to penetrate. These things, although admittedly necessary at times, often promote an emotionally detached experience. By showing us these static and incomplete moments where history and artifice meet, Barnes underscores how inherently unnatural this process of archaeological conservation really is.
Photographs from the series Animal Logic
All Images © Richard Barnes