past exhibition

ANIMA - Charlotte Dumas

Weekdays 11:00 - 20:00

Weekends and Holidays 11:00 - 18:30

Mondays and Tuesdays Closed

Entrance Fee 800 yen for over 18


These Noble Carriers
Charlotte Cotton (Visiting Scholar at Parsons, The New School for Design and New York University)

Charlotte Dumas’s photographic portraits are magical visual forms, permitting us to form deep and layered connections with her animal subjects. Dumas harnesses the inherent capacity of the genre of photographic portraiture to activate intuitive and personalized trains of thought. Portraits enable us, their viewers, to scrutinize subjects – to compare with our sense of self, and to project upon them. Dumas’s photographs of animals are portraits in this essential sense, permitting our study, and animating her subjects into our visual equivalents. Her portraits engender our empathy as we contemplate the relationships of humans to the animals that literally and symbolically serve us, and call upon the anthropomorphic capacities of our imagination.

Within the overarching approach of her portraits of animals, rich with their suggestions and invitations to study our cultural bonds to them, Dumas has sought out ways to inflect and complicate our viewing experiences by focusing upon a range of animal communities. Dumas has observed tigers, wolves, dogs and horses to create startlingly vital depictions of animals in captivity, others living wild and feral existences, and (the majority of her subjects to date) trained to be in our service. She sets out a visual vocabulary for each project, formalizing the specificity of each community and creating the vantage point from which we can imagine and empathize. Dumas has published twelve books since 2005 with precious and intimate narratives that individualize these animal existences, as-well-as two books (Repose and Companion) that offer emotively universal narratives that connect the animal kingdom and human kind by interweaving her various bodies of work.

It is important that Charlotte Dumas deploys a consciously unreconstructed idea of photography as a medium capable of revealing something about the essential nature of its physical subjects. Our faith in the photographic medium as one that can materialize a direct and penetrative perspective is not put into question by Dumas, and is, instead, actively utilized. She patiently observes her subjects in order to find her photographic engagements, akin to a portraitist who is equally adept at finding forms in a studio environment as on the street; photographically fixing observations where the idiosyncratic particularities of her subjects can be found. It is significant that our sense of Dumas’s own emotional projections onto her animal subjects is contained within her choice of animal communities to research and eventually work with. Her selection of animals that are in the service of human labour and longstanding ritualized culture, and others rejected by and on the fringes of human society, all speak to a deeply existential proposition for the viewer. Crucially, this sotto voce form of creative authorship leaves the ‘space’ for both photography and her subjects to be actively present and in dialogue, creating engagements that are obviously guided but not overtly determined by the artist. This is Dumas’s necessary strategy that enables our empathy for her subjects - and for the enduring and magical possibilities of photography - to come to the fore.

The focus of this exhibition is upon Dumas’s 2011-2012 project entitled ANIMA, commissioned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Her subject is the stable of horses at the Arlington National Cemetery, trained to draw the funeral caissons of American soldiers. These noble animals, with their heritage as warhorses that have fallen alongside cavalrymen for centuries, are depicted in darkened stable stalls in states of repose. Dumas has photographed animals at the moment of going into sleep since the mid. 2000s and her close-up vantage point onto these grounded horses, illuminated out of the deep blackness of the night, carry a heightened visual charge. Dumas communicates the gravity of their actual and symbolic role within war, bound up in the intensity of her portrayal of each of her individual (and named) subjects. The starting point for this series is represented in an accompanying instant film photograph of a public monument, dedicated to the soldiers and horses of the 58th (London) Division killed in action near Chipilly in the Somme Commune of Northern France during WWI. This sculptural representation of a struggling, fallen horse became a motif that Dumas sought out in the moments when the Arlington horses resist and finally succumb to sleep. The key final works of ANIMA are made with medium format analogue colour film – a classic, patient and intensely subtle technology for photographic portraiture. Just as the horses are a vital reminder of traditional rituals and roles that persist in our contemporary world, so too is Dumas’s conscious use of a still-resonant but no longer default form of photography.

It is similarly significant that Dumas used digital video (a ubiquitous imaging tool of today) to provide another experience of ANIMA. The representational connotations and artistic signature carried by the medium of digital video (and especially given the locked position of Dumas’s video frame for this project) are much less weighty than those imbued into large format analogue still photography. The video form seems to more lightly make its presence felt in the narrative of the final work and permits the durational vignettes to emphasize the extraordinary vulnerability of the funeral horses portrayed as they sway in and enter the moment of sleep. Dumas used instant film (better remembered as Polaroid film) for another facet of ANIMA. With this now rarefied photographic technology, Dumas depicted the daytime routines and movements of the horses. The patina of this antiquated photographic material and the slowness of its capture (seen in the blurs created by the quicker movements of the horses) conveys the historic but still vital presence of both the photographic and, simultaneously, the contribution of horses within warfare that the present day Arlington Cemetery horses represent. While Dumas’s photographs made with instant film have a certain nostalgic beauty to them, this is mitigated by the solemn acknowledgement of the enduring dreadfulness of war, symbolized by the horses that carry the coffins of contemporary soldiers.

Collectively, the three visual elements of ANIMA create truly profound and dynamic viewing experiences. Dumas’ portraits of these horses that reside at the edge of human life and death are actual and symbolic entry points into acknowledging our deep-seated emotions about ourselves and the animals with which we are intertwined. The horses of Arlington Cemetery nobly carry us into this contemplative space.


artist statment

The photographic series Anima features the caisson horses of Arlington National Cemetery in the United States, the national burial ground for U.S. service members, located outside the country’s capital city of Washington DC. The series was originally commissioned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

These animals, housed at Fort Myer, Virginia, are among the few leftto perform a duty for mankind that dates back centuries. No longer used in warfare as such, they now have the sole and exclusive privilege of accompanying soldiers to their final resting place. My photography often focuses on animals that work, and whose function and appearance in our daily life continually diminishes with time’s passing. Practically speaking, these animals are deemed no longer necessary, but they are of such importance on other levels that – by their disappearance – we miss out on the reflection they offer us, that allows us to process much that happens around us.

My photography often focuses on animals that work, and whose function and appearance in our daily life continually diminishes with time’s passing. Practically speaking, these animals are deemed no longer necessary, but they are of such importance on other levels that – by their disappearance – we miss out on the reflection they offer us, that allows us to process much that happens around us.

I am drawn to the relationship that can exist between man and animal, when they must rely on the other in order to survive and thrive. Our connection to other living creatures is of crucial importance for our existence, as they are our witnesses.

Trying to find situations where this bond still occurs has led me to portray police horses in Rotterdam and New York City, and army horses in Rome.

I photographed the individual characters at Arlington when their working day was done, as they were falling asleep in front of my eyes and camera.They not only convey their vulnerability at rest, but also reflect a falling, the losing of consciousness. As I spent time with them I felt this was maybe one of the most intimate and private moments to witness: the gap between wakefulness and slumber, a space for dreaming and reverie.


Charlotte Dumas

Born in 1977. Dutch photographer. After graduating from Gerrit Rietveld Academi, she studied the visual arts at Rijks Akademie. Throughout her career, she focuses on the relationship especially between human and animals in contemporary society and has exhibited portraits of animals situated in a variety such as police horse, rescue dog, and animals kept in zoo. She has been participated in a several group shows and held solo exhibition mainly in Europe and the United States. Currently based in both Netherland and New York.


Charlotte Dumas

Date : 7 November, 2014- 28 December, 2014
Time : Weekdays 11:00 - 20:00 / Weekends and Holidays 11:00 - 18:30
Closed : Mondays and Tuesdays
Entrance Fee :800 yen / 500 yen for students (Gallery916 & 916small)

Reception : 7 November, Friday 18:30 - 20:30
Talk Event : 8 November, Saturday 15:00 - 16:30
Speaker : Charlotte Dumas

Cooperation : Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Supported by : twelvebooks

Charlotte Dumas, the photographs For enquiries regarding
the purchase of the photographs, please contact the gallery.
TEL: +81-(3)-5403-9161 / FAX: +81-(3)-5403-9162
MAIL: mail[a]