Rob Macinnis

To be honest, I am shy and people frightened me. Animals only pooped on your shoes.

Macinnis’ photographs of various groups of animals are so striking because all the animals assembled in front of the camera seem to be most willing to accept the camera’s gaze and the power relation implied. Animals are usually hard to photograph, because they are not particularly collaborative, unpredictable in their movements, and tend to flee the frame. Macinnis’ protagonists pose and look straight into the camera. They appear tame, pacified, ‘civil’, patiently awaiting their pictorial equivalent. As in all well-managed and representative group photos, there are no obvious signs of disorder or potential subversion. Macinnis’ patchwork families look friendly and demonstrate unity and a sense of aesthetic order. Macinnis’ photos allow for a reflection on group photographs and their specific arrangements. At the same time, they make one painfully aware of the disciplinary nature of the photographic act. Posing and freezing in front of the camera is a cultural practice that had to be trained and appropriated. Narratives from the beginnings of photography prove that. By looking at Macinnis’ fully disciplined animal models, one realizes how much of our own unruliness we had to give up to fit into the photographic system.

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