Veiled Taxonomies is an ongoing project about the fractious relationship humans have with the preservation and interpretation of nature. Employing the book as the center of this investigation, artist Betsy Stirratt examines how plants, animals, and humans are represented in museums and collections, and how they are preserved, classified and displayed.
This series exhibits photographs taken while visiting natural history and medical museums in Europe and the US. Such curated settings reveal subtle information about the systematic preservation of organic remains— tangibility, placement and labeling matter greatly in these environments. The combined images of remains, sometimes intact, sometimes decaying, and the accompanying explanations hint at questions about our regard for life and how it is shown, interpreted, preserved and valued.
The context and framework of the exhibition chosen by collectors/curators helps to shape our responses, which can sometimes be emotional, even visceral. These settings can affect not only how we view nature but can shape our relationship to it. Veiled Taxonomies tells a multi-layered story of our curiosity about the natural world but also about our attempts to order it in the face of extreme climate change.