CHRISTINA SEELY | Next of Kin Portraits
Seely’s 2016 Next of Kin Portraits were created in response to the extinction crisis, employing portraiture and mirroring to invoke an emotional understanding of this pressing topic. A set of kinetic light-boxes feature portraits of taxidermied specimens of endangered mammals found in the collection at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Isolated in front of a dark background, each animal’s “face” is centered in the frame and photographed from an angle that gives the sensation that it is making direct eye contact with the viewer. Each image, printed as a Duratran, is set into a lightbox fitted with a two-way mirror. The light is set so that only a trace of the animal’s face is viewable though often in conflict with the viewer’s reflection. Viewers emerge as replacements of the fading species, underscoring their own relationship to, and role in, the fate of our next of kin in the animal kingdom.