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The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris’s eclectic le Marais district (which ironically has been flood-proof), is presenting 20 works on paper by artist Daniel Horowitz through September 4. Commissioned by the museum, this body of work tackles an improbable exercise of pseudo-historical documentation by retelling a fictive safari expedition. The former New York Times illustrator, whose work circumvents easy categorization and stereotyping, is here subverting original 18th, 19th and early 20th century artifacts to explore the art of hunting more thoroughly, as a metaphor for man’s quest of self.
Horowitz’s artistic practice of painting, drawing, collage, and installation’s objective is to successfully manipulate the image by connecting it to the given style and technique of antique engravings and watercolors, in order to confuse the viewer as to what is authentic and what is intervention.
This seamless integration of the counterfeit with the historical within the museum confuses what is “museological objectivation” and “ontological engineering” to cite the philosopher, Vincent Normand. Questioning the ontological role of the museum, the exhibition, and the historical artifact all-together is at the heart of this approach.
But beyond the role of the museum, this exhibit also examines historically the content and modern function of the safari. As Claude d’Anthenaise points out, it is not a coincidence that the safari trend would concur with the blooming of romanticism, which emphasized the blooming and glory of nature. Yet, the coinciding industrial revolution and its city and country planning, turned the savage world into nothing more than an enclave. Since the age of enlightenment, the deep woods are less dark and the occidental man hunts in a territory that is already well mastered. Horowitz’s process of unnatural associations also addresses this paradox with creaking humor.