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Animals as art

A biologist and journalist review a Brooklyn artist's attempt to bring the zoo to SoHo

Melinda Wenner
On a midwinter Saturday, evolutionary biologist Michael Purugganan and I cross New York City streets -- clogged with muddy snow and weekend traffic -- to meet up at the zoo. But this zoo had no cages or enclosures. Just TV monitors.Six years ago, while an artist-in-residence in Trinidad, Nina Katchadourian treated herself to a day at the zoo, and fell in love. She became inspired to create her most recent project, Zoo, a work-in-progress consisting of video and audio footage from zoos in Helsinki, Stockholm, London, and Port-of-Spain.
Showing at SoHo's Location One until March 24, Zoo showcases a number of bizarre zoo moments -- where, for instance, humans appear to mingle with lions thanks to an optical illusion, and close-ups transform the familiar into the unrecognizable. By presenting the animals ambiguously, Katchadourian wants viewers to question what they really know about these elusive creatures, and ponder the clarity...

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