Silhouettes and Shadows, Kerava Art Museum, Finland, 2019
Diorama (Greek ”διοράω”, ”transparent”) is a 19th-century, three-dimensional landscape model, a wall-mounted display window, where taxidermied animals are presented in their natural habitats. With the means of Trompe-l’œil, a painting technique for creating realistic illusions, the diorama’s expand beyond their walls into endless terrains – from sun blistered deserts and majestic forests to northern winter nights, where wolfs leap forward frozen in mid-air. Each synthetic grass, tree and animal are parts in meticulously constructed imitations of nature, silent worlds where the flow of time is interrupted, as if its waiting for a storm to arrive.
Measured Silence consists of 80 slides photographed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, especially known for its stunning dioramas. As in censored texts and images, all wildlife has been erased from the slides. The absence of species creates gaping holes into the continuum of Nature, and the hand-cut black silhouette shadows next to the projection makes their vanishing visible.
Already in 1909 the museum displays were planned to present the rapidly vanishing landscapes and animals of Africa. Still, an institute whose purpose is to sustain, but which also obtains specimens of rare species, encounters a moral dilemma. The work raises questions connected to the disappearance of species, the desire to understand nature through scientific approach by taxonomic classification systems and the need of turning the uncontrollable into something controlled.
Measured Silence is a collaboration between Saara Ekström and Thom Vink
Installation image credits: Pekka Elomaa, Kerava Art Museum, 2019