This summer, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design
presents Charlotte Dumas: Anima (July 14October 28, 2012), the first solo exhibition in the United States by Dutch artist Charlotte Dumas and the fourth exhibition in NOW at the Corcoran, a program dedicated to showcasing work by midcareer and emerging artists. Anima, organized by Paul Roth, the Corcorans senior curator and director of photography and media arts, will showcase a newly-commissioned series of portraits in the Corcorans Rotunda that show the majestic burial horses of Arlington National Cemetery, and will be accompanied by three earlier bodies of work, showing the artists range of approaches to her subjects.
A rising international contemporary artist, Dumas recently received widespread acclaim for her photographs of the surviving search and recovery dogs of 9/11. Dumas photographs are intended to provoke a kind of interaction, one that is focused and intense, between her viewers and her subjects, said Roth. Her goal is to engender a visual relationship, so that the portrait makes us more conscious of how we look at animals in our everyday lives.
Dumas, who travels the world making evocative formal portraits of animals, typically works in series, portraying animals characterized by their utility, social function, or by the way they relate to people. Drawing inspiration from classical portrait painting of the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age to explore the relationship between her subjects and their environment, Dumas often presents her subjects as heroic, engaged in a struggle of sorts against their marginalization or confinement, and against the spatial and psychological encroachment of people.
The bond between mankind and animals, and the extensive history that it accompanies, is my great interest, said the artist. I investigate how we tend to use and regard animals for our own purposes, both literally and symbolically and the characteristics that we like to take to heart from them, and the ones we attribute to them.
Commissioned by the Corcoran, Dumas recently began photographing Arlington National Cemeterys burial horses while in their stables and at work. These Army horses, which belong to the Old Guard, the 3rd Infantry Regiment, carry soldiers to their final resting place in traditional military funerals. Additionally, the exhibition presents three earlier series of portraits that investigate the inner lives of particular animals: Reverie (2005) depicts gray wolves, alone and in packs, in forested nature preserves in Sweden, Norway, and the United States; Palermo 7 (2006) contains close-up portraits of racehorses, with their heads tethered in place in their hippodrome stalls in Italy and France; and Heart Shaped Hole (2008) depicts stray dogs, adapting in different ways to the privation they experience on the streets of Palermo.
Starting this spring, Dumas will work in tandem with graduate students from the Corcorans Master of Arts in New Media Photojournalism programa pioneering academic program for visual journaliststo prepare a short documentary on her work. The documentary, which will be on view alongside Anima, will examine Dumass artistic process as she works to photograph the burial horses at Arlington National Cemetery. In the fall, Dumas will return to the Corcoran College of Art + Design for critiques and opportunities to discuss her work with students, and to present a public lecture at the end of October.