Une Visite au Museum

Paolo Topy Rossetto Photographer - Une Visite Au Museum 01
Paolo Topy Rossetto Photographer - Une Visite Au Museum 02
Paolo Topy Rossetto Photographer - Une Visite Au Museum 03
Paolo Topy Rossetto Photographer - Une Visite Au Museum 04
Paolo Topy Rossetto Photographer - Une Visite Au Museum 05
Paolo Topy Rossetto Photographer - Une Visite Au Museum 06
Paolo Topy Rossetto Photographer - Une Visite Au Museum 07



With “Une visite au Museum”, a series of seven photographs taken at a European museum of natural history, Paolo Topy invites us to consider not only the current status and role of that type of institution, but our relationship to nature as well. A visit to a natural-history museum was traditionally considered practically mandatory for anyone wishing to perfect their knowledge of natural habitats and the plants and animals found there. Worlds that are often distant and inaccessible reveal themselves through proximity, but also through a gap that is both exotic and deadly. More and more frequently, visitors to this type of institution are turning into modern-day Professor Challengers – the character from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous 1912 novel, The Lost World. Indeed, with these views of the Siberian forest – a natural habitat where oil and gas operations, global warming, deforestation and pollution pose serious threats to the future of the local flora and fauna – Paolo Topy does indeed confront us with a vision of a lost world. The dramatization of the scene orchestrated by the artist has been obtained by the sequencing, in which close-ups of the animals – the Sika deer (Cervus Nippon), the prey; and its predator, the Siberian tiger (Pantherina Tigris Altaica) – alternate with views of the moment of predation for a kind of gripping freeze frame. The cold, “frozen” views of snow-clad landscapes create an initial ambiguity that is soon overcome: is this the work of a nature photographer? Of course not, so our discomfort ends when we realize that the theatricality has been deliberately created; it is all artifice, the scene is staged. This slippage in the image allows us to address the harrowing reality generated by the artist’s strategy, by his gaze. The drama is not to be found in the hunting scene, or in the connection between life and death that is an integral part of the animal world, but is in fact in the dangers stemming from human activities that are, obviously, invisible in this reconstitution. Invisible, yet clearly present via the chemicals used to create it. This frozen reconstitution – composed of landscapes painted with acrylic paint, artificial snow made out of synthetic resin, and stuffed dead animals preserved in formalin after probably having been hunted specifically for that purpose – seems to be sounding a warning. These landscapes won’t be around for much longer, and these animals will probably be disappearing too soon. The magpie taking flight in the final image of the series heightens the dramatic effect and alerts us to the drama taking place. The scene is indeed artificial; it will soon bear witness, not to a geographically distant living habitat, but to a permanently lost world that will have been sacrificed on the altar of interests that turn it into a veritable crime scene.

Yves Peltier

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