This series began as a visual journal; I found myself drawn to the humor, wackiness and pathos in the spectacle of wild animals as guests on late night talk TV.
Most of us will never see these animals in their natural habitat or even in a zoo, for that matter. Our experience of them is through the medium of TV and the culture of celebrity. The exotic, foreign and strange are presented for our entertainment. Some of the animals display great patience and dignity; some seem barely contained; others seem to like strutting their stuff and seem completely at home in the spotlight. The reactions of the TV hosts, from loving sentimentality to wariness to outright fear, mirror our own reactions. We want to know these animals better, but on our own terms and in our own comfort zone; and we want them to entertain us. Is this quintessentially American, or basic to human nature?
The animals are brought on as TV guests with the best of intentions: to educate the mass TV audience. Often these species are perilously close to extinction. Does our culture handle the vanishing of a species by giving them 15 minutes of fame before they’re gone for good? These pictures speak to our conflicted reactions about co-existing with wildness and the natural world; the irony of a culture that seems to love these animals to death but can’t seem to leave them alone.