Still Life With Thanatotic Animals

Lee Henderson

In Still Life with Thanatotic Animals, Lee Henderson employs the visual rhetoric of hunting culture by documenting trophy heads to continue his exploration of mortality. Mediated by the photographic print, the dead animal’s head as archival trophy is confirmed as a timeless personification of death. The artist is fascinated by the terminus or “the end of the road,” and how the ubiquity of death is reflected in our collective histories.Marshall McLuhan used the analogy of the photographer as a hunter, to describe the effects of the camera as an instrument which turns "game" into extremely self conscious beings.

In Henderson's work, the insertion of a digital viewfinder creates another field within the image, drawing attention to the foreground. The exhibited prints hang from photoclips along thin cabling, which emphasizes their connection to the photographic process and positions the darkroom space as a site for mourning. Through an interplay between subject and medium, an already preserved animal is preserved again by the image. The works are lit with safelights, which project a red glow into the gallery space and evoke a sense of danger, stoppage, and arrest. In the evening, this light transforms the gallery into a luminous diorama, creating further distance between the viewer and the subject.