Response to Stephen Carter-Novotni’s “Frozen Menagerie: Jeremy Johnson explores the scientific art of dissection and taxidermy”
This exhibit is meant to show that humans and animals are connected by similarities in our basic anatomy. Jeremy Johnson is interested in showing viewers the process of dissecting animals. The public dissections are displayed in his home most of the time a few times annually. He wants his audience to understand the anatomy of the creatures (deceased by natural causes). The shows, which go on for hours are meant to get the viewers to think of their own mortality. The other half of his work involves taxidermy. He puts the animals back together in poses either very stoic (typical of most taxidermy) or very animated as if frozen in time.
This interest in mortality and the composition of bodies (animal and human) started as a child. I think it’s really great that art can allow you to explore a strange interest and in this case teach the public about that interest. Despite the creep-factor in these shows, they do educate by way of instruction through Johnson’s voice. I think it’s important to stay open minded to subjects and practice you might normally gasp at in order to be a more informed person. I can understand why Johnson believes these shows would cause viewers to access their own mortality and understand the basic composition of all creatures being so similar. Because we are so similar compositionally, it makes sense to appreciate that like us other people and animals have emotions that should be respected. We will all die one day so might as well be nice and be treated nicely back while were still around. I think humans need to be shocked in order to change our views. We are naturally stubborn (some so much as to think they are much more special than most) and should be less so.
Article available at: http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-26471-frozen_menagerie.html