© Michael Schnabel, Elephants/Rinoceri, Stuttgart, 2000

 

© Michael Schnabel, Monkeys, Stuttgart and Hannover, 2000


“German photographer Michael Schnabel’s large-format images of zoo interiors in Germany and Switzerland resonate with a minimalist beauty, which oddly emphasizes their mid-century modernist architecture.[…]
Like Elephants/Rhinoceri, Stuttgart, some of the spaces Schnabel photographed resemble indoor spas rather than cages. Some even have elements that suggest a posh lifestyle, such as an ornately tiled floor or wood slatted ceiling. In other pictures, even the metal bars form appealing, grid-like patterns.[…]
For one thing, there’s an overwhelming feeling of empty space, leading one to notice the conspicuous absence of the animals that are supposed to be living there. There are traces indicative of their presence–food troughs, bales of hay, wading pools, simulated habitats with logs and foliage. The photographs’ titles don’t give away what types of animals inhabit these spaces; one can only guess. Schnabel photographed in the early daylight hours when they were asleep. The stillness is soothing but unnatural, so you begin to wonder what it would be like to live there.”

Anne Martens

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