Exhibition: UnNatural History
I am interested in the ways humans objectify nature, both positively and negatively. The dancing, happy pigs used as icons for BBQ joints and meatpacking plants have always struck me as deeply ironic. Oversized fiberglass animals take us for rides in theme parks, and animated versions sell us products. Nature comes to us viewed through glass windows at the zoo, natural history museums, or framed on television.
We visit natural history museums for a glimpse of nature, a world we often do not experience firsthand. We view animals from far-off times and places at a safe distance. Dioramas (and photographs) create dislocated moments of nature frozen in time. The more closely they resemble a physical space and actual event, the more closely the taxidermied animals appear to breathe life, and the deeper our sense of wonder and connection.
The photographs in this collection were taken in natural history museums in the United States and abroad. By incorporating glass reflections and items within diorama cases that are meant to remain unseen, I point to the disconnection between humans and animals. The dichotomy between the real and the unreal, the version of life portrayed and the actuality of death, the inherent beauty of the animals within their fabricated environment and the understanding of its invention, find me both attracted and repelled.
Diane Fox is a Distinguished Lecturer in the College of Architecture and Design at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she teaches photography and graphic design. Fox earned an MFA from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a BFA from Middle Tennessee State University.
Solo exhibitions of UnNatural History have been shown nationally and internationally at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, CA; Erie Art Museum, PA; Huntsville Museum of Art, AL; Antenna Gallery, LA; Dom Muz Gallery, Poland; and Santa Reparata Gallery, Italy. Selected photographs have also been exhibited in invitational and juried shows across the United States and Europe.
In 2017, her work was shown at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France, and the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfort, Germany, as part of their collaborative exhibition “Dioramas” that looked at the diorama both historically and through the work of contemporary artists.