CURIOSITY AND CONTROL

There’s a fine line between loving something and possessing it

David Hancocks

Curiosity and Control is a journey through western museums of natural history and zoological gardens with reflections upon these by historians, architects, zoo directors and a museologist. The stories told in this film deal with curiosity, control, the urge to preserve and how to connect with the natural world. The film also portrays the legendary explorer Carl Akeley, who is often called “the father of taxidermy”, and his creation of the dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. These dioramas were created with the intention to spread awareness about the natural world just as contemporary zoological gardens aim to connect people with nature.

 

As we follow the construction of an extension of Chester Zoo, UK, called “Islands”

-an immersion exhibit resembling South East Asia-the participants discuss how nature can be reconstructed and the importance of reminding us of nature. But is

it for the benefit of nature itself or what it can give to us? Do dioramas and zoos

any longer play a role in spreading awareness about biodiversity or has television taken over this role? Curiosity and Control explores the thin line between curiosity,

dominion, appreciation and control.

 

Running time: 58mins, Languages: English/French.

Directed by Albin Biblom, produced by Adam Marko-Nord & Sara Waldestam..

BACKGROUND

Science is a jealous mistress and take’s little account of man’s feelings”,

Carl Akeley wrote in his diary 1921, during his expedition in Belgian Congo

while collecting specimen for his dioramas at American Museum of Natural History. The killing of gorillas affected Akeley to the extent that he later would

urge to create a sanctuary for mountain gorillas, realising that the extensive hunting and collecting would lead to extinction. The background of Curiosity and Control started out in the 90’s; spellbound by Akeley’s dioramas and as a frequent visitor to zoological gardens I travelled around photographing the attempts of recreating “nature” in museums and zoos. The ambiguous feelings these places evoked would over the years form the base for the documentary Curiosity and Control. Encouraged by my producer Adam Marko-Nord I went back to the dioramas-still the same-and also to the many zoological gardens that hadn’t changed much, approaching these institutions as places of longing, prestige, preservation, projections and order.

 

Our complex relation to nature involves the thin line between admiration and exploitation as well as bringing order into the world that surrounds us. As former zoo director David Hancock’s put’s it: “There’s a fine line between loving something and possessing it”.

Penelope Bodry-Sanders

Stephen C. Quinn

Peter van Mensch

Participants: Penelope Bodry-Sanders, Peter van Mensch, Michel Saint Jalme,

David Hancocks, Mark Pilgrim, Dale Jamieson, Stephen C. Quinn, Daniela Kalthoff,

Lars-Erik Larsson & Kieran Stanley. 

 

TEXTS

2019:  "Curiosity and Control", exhibition text by Kristoffer Leandoer. READ

2019: "Det villes teater", review in Morgenbladet by Bernhard Ellefsen READ

2019: "Ett samtal med Albin Biblom", text by Linda Bergman in VERK. READ

 

SCREENINGS & PRESS KIT

-Innsbruck Nature Film Festival, Austria, October 10th, 2019. WATCH

-Curiosity and Control can be seen on National Swedish Television,

until May 8th, 2019. WATCH

-Exhibition at Galleri Axel, Stockholm, Sweden, Feb 21-March 23, 2019. VISIT

-Tempo Festival, Stockholm, Sweden, March 5th, 2019. WATCH

-DOK Leipzig, Germany, Nov 1st, 2018. WATCH

 

ART WORK

Insect box with photographs, 2001-2018.

Insect box with photographs. 2001-2017. Private Collection.

Insect box with photographs. 2001-2014. Private Collection.

Exhibition view, Galleri Axel, Stockholm, 2018.

Detail, vitrine.

Exhibition view, Galleri Axel, Stockholm, 2018.

© Albin Biblom