It was about a year ago that I first came across Yola Monakhov Stockton’s work, and several of her images have stuck with me ever since. In her series The Nature of Imitation, the artist looks closely at birds, using color film and studio props to explore “the connection between seeing, knowing, and wanting.” The pictures are warm, lovely and romantic. They capture a powerful tension that exists in the relationship between humans and animals, particularly birds, one that comes from the fact that the creature can quickly burst into movement – into flight – and disappear from view.

The line from Monakhov Stockton’s statement that intrigues me most is the final one, referring to the desire to make, in the field/in nature, work that looks and feels as if it were created in the studio, “a place of making, control, and imagination.” I feel like this aspect comes across in the sense that something in each image is not quite right, not quite where it belongs, about to transition into something or someplace else.

From the artist’s statement: In detailed, hyper–real photographs that recall the decorative drawings of natural history, the work evokes the delicate experience of holding a bird, against traditions of landscape representation in religious iconography, Renaissance frescoes and tapestries, and Modernist painting and sculpture. Through collaborations with scientists, ecologists, and naturalists on the Massachusetts coast, and at universities and research centers across the Northeast and in Costa Rica, the photographer gained access to wild birds captured for banding, before their release, and those captive in labs… The series draws on the contact-printed albums of Anna Atkins and illustrations of John James Audubon, and revisits positivist modes of photographic representation against a contemporary and personal awareness of the fragility of place. The work derives from the photographer’s background as a documentary photographer in fields of conflict, where the deeply-felt experience of presence and witnessing sometimes clashed with the aesthetics of the resulting photographs, which were steeped in the exigencies of narrative. Here, in the constructed field of a pictorial space, the artist wished to make work in the field, in the place of the living objects depicted, but to do so as if in a studio, a place of making, control, and imagination.

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Found via: Lenscatch