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Musée de la Photographie Charleroi : Elliot Ross : Seeing Animals


The Musée de la Photographie Charleroi presents the Elliot Ross exhibition: Seeing Animals.

Fierce Beauties

Thirty years ago, at the Berlin Zoological Garden, I befriended a little loris, a Bosman’s potto, which I visited daily throughout my stay. I was waiting for him to leave the darkness of his cell in the nocturnal animal pavilion and come to put down his hand against mine, that little hand as if atrophied, on the glass that separated us. All that was wanting was for him to speak and for me to do the same, for I do not know which of us was the most astonished by this strange ritual, this long face-to-face encounter that was only interrupted by the arrival of the first visitors.

It’s the same feeling of conspiracy mixed with disbelief that I find in this photographic series by Elliot Ross. Using the devices of the photographer, each seems to want to fill the gulf between them by getting closer to the other. It is not an encyclopedia that Ross composes but a gallery of portraits, the models seeming to pose against a black background as in a studio. In the choice of black and white, Ross avoids the genre of wildlife photography, a discipline that is otherwise quite honorable, and causes the animals to be less immediately identifiable to the common viewer, leading them to stare at every detail.

This animal seems to be in a bad mood, that one is ready to laugh, this one is ready to fly away. While one, inconveniently, makes our heads spin, another waits patiently. This one is rather proud, that one wrathful, and this one is ready for battle. In this bestiary, in front of the luxury of coats, plumage or scales so perfectly detailed, we gaze as much as we are gazed upon, rediscovering that part of silence and mystery that a glance exchanged with a companion animal sometimes offers us.

Elliot Ross’s photographs don’t just emphasize the appearance of animals in the care he takes in their realization. They also remind us that we, too, are animals, though other animals are endowed with capabilities and ways of performing that are different from ours. He reminds us, too, that an animal, no matter how domesticated, is intrinsically wild.

Xavier Canonne
Director of the Musée de la Photographie


Elliot Ross : Seeing Animals
February 3 – May 26, 2024
Musée de la Photographie
Contemporary Art Center of the Wallonia Brussels Federation in Charleroi
Av. Paul Pastur 11
6032 Charleroi, Belgium

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