Animal Nature

 

In 2011, to escape the violence in our homeland, Mexico, my husband and I packed up our dogs and our cat and moved to Massachusetts. Once here, our pets started living inside the apartment with us. In Mexico, it is uncommon for pets to live indoors, but willing to adapt to the new environment and because weather conditions demanded it, we welcomed them inside.

It was then, when spending most of my time in their company, that I realized how similar we could be to animals. I started a series of color photographs called Animal Nature (2011–present), based on the disturbing relationship we have with animals, on the way we categorize them. Some are beloved companions while others do work for us, are our food or both. We create objects that represent them, we give them names and personalities, yet we eat them. Nina, my black cat, is my companion, while a fish is my food or Nina’s food. But a fish could also be someone else’s pet or the inspiration for an ornament on the wall. Both animals could also be the main character in a story.

Derrida explains how distinguishing them as animals allows us to justify the violence we inflict upon them. The goal of Animal Nature is to make people aware of how we use animals when we are also animals at the end. Like them, we also have basic needs, meeting those needs take us closer to our animal nature. Yet we don’t usually think of ourselves as part animal. How would it be like if we were farther down the food chain? It would be another animal eating our offspring for its survival. We feel so special as humans, but in the end we are also animal kind.

In this project, I stage images that talk about the animal-human interaction, mainly the one I have with my pets and with the animals that are part of the every day life, including those who become news because of the abuse we infringe upon them.

(For Fine Art Print Acquisitions the information about editions and sizes is included below. Images are also available for licensing. For all inquires please use the Contact page.)

When we came to Massachusetts, I had no friends or family around, no places to go, no things to do. With my husband at work all day long, I started to spend a lot of time with my pets. It is because of Rocco, Lola and Nina that this project was born. Suddenly I realized that besides adapting to a new environment I was also adapting to my peculiar gang, and strangely enough, it wasn’t hard to do.

Family Kitchen (2013)

Edition of 20
18”W x 12”H
$800 

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,200
 
Edition of 10
30"W x 20"H                    
 $2,000

We left Mexico mainly because of the violence situation. I remember being afraid of going out because of the gunshots, bombings and killings that occurred in the middle of the day. However, when we arrived to Massachusetts, I used to spent a lot of time in my apartment. I had always thought of myself as an adaptable person, but I wasn't doing so good. There's a song of Colombian singer Shakira that is called "Moscas en la casa" ("Flies on the house"), and it talks about a woman that is inside her house all the time, waiting for her partner. 

Present is something we receive as a gift, but it is also used to describe the present time. When we arrived to U.S.A, I had the gift (present) of going anywhere I would like to, but still I remained inside. The new environment felt different. It was a weird time for me, a "weird present". I wanted to make a picture from these feelings. I went to a watch repair shop located a couple of blocks away from my apartment and bought that jewelry box. Then returned home, poured some sugary water on it, let it open and waited for my subject to show.

Weird Present (2011)
(fly on ring box)

Edition of 20
12"W x 18"H
$800
 
Edition of 15
16"W x 24"H                    
 $1,200
 
 
Diptych (as shown, with Shakira's Song, self portrait, 2013)
Edition of 10
24"W x 17.5"H,
$2,000

On Nina & The Raw Turkey I first set the scene with the raw meat and the silverware hanging from fishing lines. I made several photos of it, but something was off, the idea I wanted wasn’t there. After hours of failed attempts I decided to leave it for another day. Next day I kept trying, one more time I left discouraged. The images from the camera didn’t speak about the ideas in my mind.

The third day I got there without an answer, completely discouraged. I was about to throw everything away when I noticed Nina came into the room. She started wandering around the table and after a few minutes she jumped on it. She was probably attracted to it because of the smell of the meat, which had been sitting there for three days!. I was already behind the camera, and quickly redirected the strobes, she stepped on the window’s edge and looked at me, I pressed the shutter!. I couldn’t have planned it!

Nina & the turkey (2012)

Edition of 15
16"W x 20"H
$1,200

Le Cats & Le Fish (2014)

Edition of 20
18”W x 12”H
$800

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,200
 
Edition of 10
30"W x 20"H                    
 $2,000
Tilikum, 2016
Tilikum's blue filled world (2016)

Edition of 15
18"W x 18"H
$800.00
Tilikum, 2016

Chickens & Tea (2014)

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,200
 
Edition of 10
30"W x 20"H                    
 $2,000

Sometimes there are things that strongly call for my attention, but in the moment I don't quite understand why. Like this hen, which I saw at a home decor store while buying a rug for my bathroom. After working on Animal Nature for so long, my brain is always processing ideas related to it, in the back of my mind.

So, even when I don't have a clear idea on how I will use something, I try to keep it. The hen was on clearance (lucky me!) so I took it home and put it on a shelf in my living room. I don't usually buy decorative stuff, but this hen had something special. Every once in a while I looked at it and it made laugh.

One fine day, that I was stuck on traffic, I started thinking about new photos that could improve the narrative of the series. In order to make the most out of it, it is during those long minutes that I let my mind fly high. I remembered the hen, Le Crack (2012), and my thoughts went on how we use animals and how we even make them work for us. A hen, an egg, animals working for us, how could I incorporate the hen into Anim...? Bingo!. And this is how Uh-oh was born.

Uh-oh! (2014)

Edition of 15
20"W x 16"H
$1,200

People usually ask me how I make my pictures, and the truth is, I do have a story for each one of them. With Le Crack!, 2013, it started when the egg broke and got frozen like that because temperature on the fridge was set to the maximum cold. The moment I saw it, I knew I could use it to represent "something", but photographing the egg wasn’t enough because it would be just a broken egg. I needed some time to better elaborate the visual image that could represent an idea.

Some weeks later my husband broke the plate while accommodating it on the dryer rack. I usually keep things that broke, in case I need them for future photos, because it's better than buying and breaking (yes, my house is full of broken stuff!). So I kept the plate but in that moment I didn’t relate it with the egg.

More weeks passed, and one night when we were walking with Rocco & Lola, I saw the broken table on the street. Someone had left it there for the trash. The crack on the table was good enough for me to remember the egg and the plate, and for representing the idea I was looking for: that moment when everything cracks!

Le Crack! (2013)

Edition of 20

12”W x 18”H
$800

Edition of 15
16"W x 24"H
$1,200
 
Edition of 10
20"W x 30"H                    
 $2,000

Whitey Whites Kitty Kat (2015)

Edition of 15
20"W x 16"H
$1,500

Animal Dancing (2012)

There is animal in human, not only literally, but also in a frightening meaning. As children we get domesticated, and some better than others, learn to subjugate that wild nature in order to be socially accepted.

Edition of 15
20"W x 18"H
$1,500

Flying Lola (2012)

Edition of 20
12”W x 18”H
$800

Edition of 15
16"W x 24"H
$1,200.00
Picnic I, 2014

Picnic I (2013)

Edition of 20
18”W x 12”H
$800

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,200.00
 
Edition of 10
30"W x 20"H                    
 $2,000.00
Picnic I, 2014
They don't float here, 2016
They don't float here (2016)

Edition of 20
18”W x 12”H
$800

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,500
They don't float here, 2016

It was the 4th of July of 2012, we were getting ready to get out of the house and enjoy the holiday when I noticed that Nina was staring at the window. As an indoor cat, she is used to watch the life happening out there without a lot of interest, with a typical "whatever” face. However, this time was different, she was really into it. Her head was up and down, left and right, her eyes on the prize.

The only camera I had at hand was a medium format Yashica D (film), which I had bought in an antique fair the year before. I had no light meter and the film was about to run out, but I managed to make some shots. As a photographer that usually stages her images, I have to admit that I also have learned to observe and to enjoy the gift of the "lucky moment".

Window Shopping (2012)

Edition of 20
18”W x 18”H
$800
Picnic II
Picnic II (2013)

Edition of 20
18”W x 12”H
$800

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,200.00
 
Picnic II
Heart-off, 2017
Heart-off (2016)

Edition of 20
18”W x 12”H
$800

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,200.00

 
 
Heart-off, 2017
Harambe, 2016
Harambe's fate was sealed (2016)

Edition of 15
20"W x 16"H
$1,200
Harambe, 2016

Pollito Chicken (2015)

Awarded First Prize at Fun House: Art of the Surreal, Fantastic and Bizarre, National Juried Contemporary Art Exhibition, Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY, 2016

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,500
 

Let it be (2013)

Edition of 20
18”W x 12”H
$800

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,200.00
 
Edition of 10
30"W x 20"H                    
 $2,000.00

Lost Call (2014)

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,500
2016
2016 (2016)

Edition of 15
24"W x 16"H
$1,500
2016