Mixing the primitive with the present – gallerywest’s latest exhibit, ‘Still Life With Thanatotic Animals’ by Lee Henderson focuses on a picture of a picture in a picture with an inner picture of a prescribed picture.

Confused? Good.

“It is the false problem of the terminus that fascinates me—in the persistence of collective histories and the brevity of individual lives—and the ways in which we accept, evade, or deny the knowledge of our own impermanence.”

Exploring the non-life with Lee Henderson

Sometimes our visual proximity plays weight on how we view a photograph. Sometimes it takes a waking heritage coupled with a fascination of the non-living to stir up contextual summaries. And sometimes it takes a life-size image of a creature to make the literal, obvious.

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As part of Scotiabank’s CONTACT Photography Festival, which runs all month long in Toronto, Lee Henderson’s exhibit demystifies the view of animal trophy heads. Taken in a heritage house in Alberta, the black and white photographs are suspended from cables running the length of the gallery – all of which were shot through the viewfinder of a second digital camera.

Furthering his attraction to museology and hunting while encouraging the sensory relationship that photography reinforces—Henderson highlights a stagnant life with prime focus on the animalistic form. Drawing from the notion of the Freudian Death Drive while associating the ideal of arresting entities, the exhibit showcases a collective trophy case of animals marked with numeric captions.

“The dead animal’s head as an archival trophy echoes photography’s denial of time.”

More so the prints are hung in a conditional atmosphere. At night the gallery switches from the overtly bright to a grim red glow, projecting much of a darkroom environment and viewing ambiance.

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The opening reception welcomed photographers, artists, media and onlookers alike –observing an undeniable dedication to striking snapshots and captive hunting chapters.

Viewers should expect a sensory exploration of blatant realism with a pragmatic underbelly of constructional niceties.

Still Life with Thanatotic Animals runs until May 31st at gallerywest (1332 Queen St. West).

More info here