MH is a blog and archive featuring artists who are interested in the ways in which humans interact with and experience animals and nature.

Gábor Komlósi, "Greenzone"

Gábor Komlósi

In Gábor Komlósi’s series Greenzone, the artist draws a connection between abandoned houses and endangered species found in Hungary. The images prompt a conversation about the often reckless expansion of humans, the way things that were once valued and abundant will maybe someday live only in our memories, and animals’ propensity to adapt. On first glance, the animals in the abandoned scenes don’t look exactly real, more like digital composites, but upon closer inspection, they are neither; the creatures are cardboard cutouts placed into the buildings. I think this is an interesting twist (like an alternate version of Kai Fagerström’s The House in the Woods), and the boldness of the animals’ contrast and color certainly grabs my attention. This 2D aspect of the animals makes them appear off-kilter, their situation a bit precarious, and like they don’t belong.

From the artist’s statement: It is quite common, that formerly important facilities – which wasn’t built specifically next to nature reservations, manufactories, weekend houses, mansions – after a short time usage go to waste and then remain empty. In time these buildings start to run down because of the nature and weather conditions, and will be forgotten. Such areas as these then can serve as a habitat for the fauna… Nowadays numerous animals can be seen only on a picture, or as a stuffed animal in Natural History Museums. In my series I propose an imaginative way for the animals to adapt through the abandoned weekend houses… In my work I refer to their population’s reduction and their compulsive adaptation.

Visit artist's site: komlosigabor.wix.com/komlosigabor



Dmitry Gomberg, "The Shepherd's Way"

Dmitry Gomberg + Don’t Take Pictures

Muybridge’s Horse is back from hiatus! And with something I’m really excited to share. In the spring, Kat Kiernan of the wonderful print and online magazine Don’t Take Pictures asked me if I’d be interested in contributing an article to the next issue. Having written for the Rule Breakers series of the magazine’s blogzine component last year, I happily accepted and chose to interview photographer Dmitry Gomberg about his project The Shepherd’s Way. The images in Gomberg’s series document the time he spent among the shepherds and cheese makers of the Caucasus Mountains. An excerpt from the article, which focuses (naturally) on the presence of animals and death in the series, is below.

Gomberg did not set out to make a statement about the shepherds that he lived with and photographed in the Tusheti region of the Republic of Georgia. A photographic storyteller, he found himself fascinated by a lifestyle that he had never seen before. Born in Moscow in 1980, Gomberg moved to New York in 2000 and changed professions several times before pursuing photography at the International Center of Photography. While living in New York, he made friends with a group of Georgians who invited him to the tiny mountainous nation. Having grown up watching Georgian cinema, reading the literature, and listening to his father’s stories of traveling throughout the Soviet Union, he was already enchanted by the place. He readily accepted his friends’ invitation and travelled to Tusheti, Georgia, where he was introduced to Vazha, a brigadier and the leader of the shepherds. Gomberg joined Vazha and his cousin, Sasha, on a journey leading a flock of sheep from winter fields to the mountains. Their main goal was to keep the sheep alive.

Gomberg’s photographs document the time he spent in Tusheti and the lives of the people he met, but also include landscapes, candid portraits, and still lifes. The comprehensive series contains images of a rustic lifestyle: people making bread and cheese, spinning wool, and preparing meals; men wrangling flocks of sheep over stunning mountain passes; and animals grazing and shuffling along on green grass and in deep snow. It is fitting that in this digital age, Gomberg uses film to document a way of life that seems to be from an earlier century. Made from 2008 to 2013, these pictures address the seasons, both of the year and of life. While the life and work of a shepherd varies from season to season, there is constantly food and feast. Throughout Gomberg’s story of the high mountain shepherds of Tusheti, the life and death cycle, and its effects on both the animals and their human caretakers, is explored in beautifully atmospheric color photographs that favor a lush earthy palate which compliments the harshness of the subject matter and the richness of the landscape.

You can read the full article and see more of Gomberg’s gorgeous photographs by purchasing a copy of Don’t Take Pictures Issue 5 or reading it online. In addition, an exclusive print of Gomberg’s image Up to the Mountains in the Fog is available for purchase through Don’t Take Pictures beginning today; find more information here.

Visit artist's site: cargocollective.com/gomberg



MH Digest

Hiatus + Introducing MH Digest

I type this post from a temporary home in Colorado, taking a break from unpacking a moving truck that brought all my belongings from Kansas. Over the next few weeks or maybe months, I’ll be between the Mountain West and the Northwest, attempting to secure a life in the Portland area. I’ll have limited access to the internet and an unpredictable schedule, so although there might be some guests posts during this time, I won’t be posting on MH regularly. Hopefully, things will be back to normal here by the fall. In the mean time, you can stay connected by following the Tumblr account I’ve set up for MH.

MH Digest will be updated twice weekly or so with images on the MH theme. There’s currently a queue of posts with a few images from each MH post over the past two and a half years. Intermixed and beyond that will be new content: reblogs of great animal/nature photography, art I see and love on the fly, a few images when a whole post of ten wouldn’t make sense on MH. There’s also a way to submit!

Even beyond this hiatus, I think the Tumblr blog will be a great digest-style companion to the site. I hope you follow along.



Tara Sellios, "Luxuria"

Tara Sellios

I have never seen anything else like Tara Sellios’ artwork. When I came across her photography and accompanying sketches in 2012, I was blown away by her originality, ingenuity, attention to detail, and intense overall process. The photographs are rich, luscious, and seductive, and the large 2D works are captivating, enriching the experience of the work altogether. In her art, Sellios explores existence, death, fragility, impermanence, and carnality. Her most recent group of photographs and watercolors, Luxuria, is on view at Gallery Kayafas in Boston through June 27, 2015.

From a statement on the Gallery Kayafas websiteNot unlike 17th century Dutch still life painting, Sellios’ photographs are formal compositions of apparently sumptuous repasts – table linens smeared with fluids, strewn with crumbs left from gluttonous exchanges and lavish banquets. These large-scale watercolors and multi-paneled color photographs vibrate with realism and physical presence. Sellios seeks to represent the totality of human existence, the feel, even the smell of it. We are invited to experience the lasciviousness of the consumption of food and wine – of life passing. The imagery is beautifully unsettling and raw. We are visually satiated. Life and Death inhabit the same moment.

Visit artist's site: tarasellios.com



Alice Grace Woosey, "Imprint"

Alice Grace Woosey

Alice Grace Woosey’s photographs of ducklings developing in and hatching from eggs are dramatic and captivating. The images in Imprint document embryonic life from conception to emergence, the luscious black of the background and glowing warm hues and bright whites of the embryo and egg creating a seductive contrast. While focusing on the fragility and evanescence of the process, Woosey draws a comparison between the subject of the pictures and the practice of photography itself.

From the artist’s statement: Light reveals the interior of the egg, the porcelain-like shell shifts from opaque to translucent, but the embryo appears only as a shadow, indistinct, fleeting and elusive – resisting being pinned down and immutably fixed in an image. Light is also the substance of photography – its alchemical reaction with photosensitive emulsion leaves an imprint of the referent, but also reveals the image in the darkroom, through projection. Without light, the embryo is concealed, the film records nothing – no imprint is left, and nothing can be projected. There is only primordial darkness.

The darkroom is a maternal, womb-like space in which prints develop and negatives have life breathed into them, turning from immaterial projections into physical, material prints. These creations are fragile like the first shadows of existence they represent, too much light and they fade out into over-exposed darkness, too little light and they barely exist at all.

Visit artist's site: alicegracewoosey.com



Kent Andreasen, from "Casablanca"

Kent Andreasen

I don’t know much about Kent Andreasen, but since I stumbled upon his pictures, they’ve stuck with me. I’ve written before about how the mystery of contemporary photography portfolio websites, with a lack of basic artist information or a statement, general or specific, sometimes attracts me to the work, causing me to draw my own conclusions and spend time thinking about the images and their meaning. I find myself looking at a lot of this work lately. Maybe I’m drawn to this kind of representation of artwork because my own situation is in such a state of flux right now. Regardless, I enjoy the unknown and the eeriness in Kent Andreasen’s photography. If nothing more, it is a documentation of the strangeness of nature and the world.

Visit artist's site: kentandreasen.com



Adam Batchelor, "America, Rectangle, Megaphone, Monday"

Adam Batchelor

You might recognize the work of Adam Batchelor from his drawings of birds with bags on their heads, which have been popular all over the internet lately. That’s how I discovered his strange animal drawings, and their absurdity stuck with me. Batchelor’s work is similar in style and concept to that of a favorite artist of mine, Josh Keyes, with animals in curious predicaments against bold white backgrounds, although Batchelor’s pieces are less photorealistic in style. Playful yet critical, Batchelor’s artwork examines the imbalance between humans and the natural world and how we as humans portray and understand ecology and the animal kingdom. (The Observation section of his site has a great collection of animal/nature photos.)

Visit artist's site: adambatchelor.co.uk



Valeria Scrilatti, "Siberian Tiger, Berlin"

Valeria Scrilatti

Valeria Scrilatti’s comprehensive series, Almost Wild, is made of a wide variety of types of pictures. Made in zoos all over the world, some are magnificent and breathtaking, showcasing the brilliant color of autumn leaves or specks of dust in a beam of light; some look like they were made by a child, with animals’ heads chopped off or faces obscured; some look like ordinary, almost accidental photographs of a zoo environment until a figure is spotted so small and nearly out of the frame. Many of the animals pictured don’t look like they belong in these places, or maybe it’s that, based on what we can see, they can’t possibly be happy.

From a statement on the artist’s website: The zoo is certainly not exclusive to Western culture, nor is it the result of the consumer society. Men have always had the urge to “capture” and “tame” wild beasts, removing them from their native habitats and putting them on display in other places, just as men have also done with “savage” humans who lived in the wild. The Renaissance popes brought elephants and rhinos to Rome, where they lived in the Vatican gardens… But industrial society did something more and it created a sort of “total institution” that is a parallel universe and a world unto itself. The zoo is in fact a kind of theme park where life, with its dimension of the unusual and the [marvelous], is taken away from our everyday experience and is hermetically closed off and vacuum-packed inside the box of a vulgar and low-quality spectacle.

Valeria [immerses] herself in this phony universe that is rooted in the childhood memories of us all, with its strange mixture of the menacing power of wild nature and the humiliating fiction of fairground papier-mâché scenarios. The eyes of children, without bothering with questions of ethics or aesthetics, focus feverishly on these incongruous presences; on the animals that, heedless of the spectacle of which they are the protagonists, give us brief glimpses and inglorious fragments of their “real” existence. With the merging of the “natural” into such an “unnatural” context the false and artificial scenario is totally dominant, and it has the sweet and cloying taste of an obscure and clichéd art-house film, emerging grotesquely from an indecorous and tasteless trivialization of uncontaminated nature.

Visit artist's site: valeriascrilatti.eu

Found via: Life Framer



Sebastian Magnani, "Reflections"

Sebastian Magnani

I stumbled upon this series of photographs by Sebastian Magnani and I found it so calming, right when I needed something like that. Magnani’s pictures of circular mirrors on various natural textures create the illusion of planets unlike any we know. Some of the backgrounds reference a speckled universe; some make me think other galaxies could indeed look like bursts of pink and green. My favorite of the images are those in which what’s reflected either fits in perfectly or goes against completely the surface upon which the mirror is resting. The white line seems to continue right through the sphere of reflected tree branches in the first image below, and the blue sky and orange leaves in the image after that are pleasantly unexpected against a black asphalt background. Maybe it’s my mood, but I feel relaxed and hopeful when I look at the photographs (cigarette butts and all), thinking about nature figuratively and literally reflected.

A note: The time is nearing to step back from Muybridge’s Horse for a while as I leave my current home in Kansas, relocate to a temporary “home base” in Colorado, and make the move to Portland, OR, where I hope to settle in (and find a job!) before the fall. I won’t be able to post regularly over the next few months, but I’ll do my best. I’m thinking of posting content in a digest-style format to keep myself from missing MH too badly; I’ll write about that soon!

Visit artist's site: sebastianmagnani.com



Samantha Friend, "We Are Interested"

Samantha Friend

Today I’m featuring work by Samantha Friend again because as much as I enjoy her series Swatches, what she’s currently up to is a project I find even more intriguing. We Are Interested is “an honest contemporary look at America’s constantly changing relationship with nature and the various ways we try to understand the role the outside world plays in our society.” More from the artist’s statement: “By exploring how we also play a significant role in nature’s life span—though at times without intending to, or in an inevitably negative manner—what’s revealed in the process are ways in which we preserve and enhance this symbiotic relationship too. As humans, one of our primary goals is to obtain the mentality of a life well lived. Since fresh air and sunlight are intrinsic to a high quality of life, we seek to experience these necessities of enrichment while still remaining true to our desires, never forsaking the opportunity of having fun by experiencing a scheduled good time. As our vacations from the norm and surrounding environment begin to feel increasingly more forced and elaborate, we must also keep in mind that at all times we are a customer of life.”

I mentioned recently that bodies of work like this continue to show up on my radar, and I love them because they’re broad in content but specific to the image-maker, their location, their age, etc. The general questioning of the human relationship with animals and nature is my favorite kind of photography right now. You can present any artist with this concept and be met with a vast array of types of images. I think it’s important that many of Friend’s photos depict people in some way obscured, from behind or interacting with technology. Even when with others or amongst animals, each person feels strangely isolated.

Visit artist's site: samanthafriend.com