Jim Naughten at Klompching Gallery

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday April 20, 2016

British photographer Jim Naughten engages with subjects whose backstories and trappings share some of the allure of childhood fantasy. With Re-enactors, it was the war games that many children [and adults as well] get hooked on. With Hereros, it was "dress-up," through the extraordinary colonial and military dress (and its strange history) of the people of Namibia. In an interview with the Telegraph, regarding Re-enactors, he said, “It was important that it was a study and not a documentary. We met plenty of characters, as you can imagine, and it was particularly strange seeing people from all over the world dressing as Nazis. I knew from the outset that I didn’t want to get involved in the debate, at least not with this project. I love the fact that questions are raised but I do not attempt to answer them. The German uniforms still retain an extraordinary ‘power’.” Above: Plesiosaurus, 2016, © Jim Naughten, from the series Dinosaur Island.

Now with Animal Kingdom he extends the meaning of what is a study through an intense investigation of the remains of creatures preserved as natural history specimens as well as human-made "relics" of what we have thought animals to be (above). His photographs of zoological specimens, printed as diptychs, become 3-D images through a reverse-engineered version of a stereoscopic viewer. Captivating as they are as photographs, they become transformed into physical objects in time and space. In this way Naughten extends the duration of time in which we observe his subjects, thereby gaining a further understanding of their nature.

© Jim Naughten, Diamond Python (Morelia Spilota), 2015, from the series Animal Kingdom. 

By these means he re-creates a boyhood fascination with studying the natural world through the type of collections kids make for themselves. In his introduction to the book of the same title, Martin Barnes, Senior Curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum writes, “He is the nascent scientific collector of weird treasures, creating his own understanding of the world through a process of discovery and systematic gathering. The simple joy of looking is captured here too. Viewing these photographs in stereo forces attention on a single subject, and the act of observation is necessarily solitary: one subject to one viewer at a time… The impression of time passing, and the world outside, momentarily slips away and an intensified consciousness takes over. A whole universe frozen in time is reanimated and elegantly represented. It is like a secret cabinet of curiosities with its doors."

Jim Naughten | Animal Kingdom opens Thursday, April 21st from six to eight pm with a book signing at Klompching Gallery. 89 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY. [Dumbo] Info




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