Exhibition tip: Charlotte Dumas – Paradis

Warf! Régine from wmmna is blogging about dog portraits now!? She’s completely lost the plot, poor girl!

One sunny morning, when i was in Amsterdam, i walked by Foam, the city Museum of Photography. You know me by now: i see a photo museum, i want to get in. There were a couple of exhibitions to see, the one that blew me away for the rest of the day was Paradis, the first major retrospective of the work of Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas. Dumas makes shockingly moving portraits of animals.

0aauntitlekinghl.jpgUntitled (King) 2009. © Charlotte Dumas

It was at the Rijksakademie that she made her first series of animal portraits – five police dogs – which grew from a fascination with the portrayal of controlled aggression. In subsequent years several series emerged focusing on subjects such as police horses (Four Horses), army horses (Day is Done), wolves (Reverie), and more recently street dogs (Heart Shaped Hole). The relationship between man and animal forms a constant indirect element in her work. Dumas prefers to photograph animals with a close connection to humans and whom fulfil an important role for us: animals that have been tamed or trained by humans and which serve a particular purpose, whether in an actual task or by their appearance. Each of these animals lives in a human environment, generally in captivity. Dumas employs traditional formats, invariably placing the subject in the centre, portraying moments of concentrated calm. The psychology of portraiture plays a key role in this.

0allikeroaylaliu9.jpgUntitled(Reward), 2009 © Charlotte Dumas

Her portraits of stray dogs depressed me beyond words but Dumas sees hope in them. If you’re in Amsterdam or around, you know what you should do…

0aavincennn8uk.jpgUntitled (Vincennes 1), 2006 © Charlotte Dumas

Check out the interview that Brooklyn Rail made with the artist.
Charlotte Dumas – Paradis runs until 22 November 2009 at Foam_Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam.