There are over 10,000 species threatened with extinction worldwide, a number that's difficult to fathom. Maximilian Tomozei's work explores this notion with poignancy, looking at common animals that are preserved in museums as treasures worth sharing. The images play with the idea of loss and preservation as the dioramas themselves veer into both the elegant and absurd. Even the most carefully prepared animals look out of place in the stagnant landscapes, a potent reminder that the desire to keep something past its time is often futile — and that it's better to preserve the animals while they are still alive. BuzzFeed News spoke with Tomozei about his work as a part of our climate-change photo essay series in collaboration with PHmuseum.
Can you talk about the approach you take in your project Stilled Lives?
In Stilled Lives, I am trying to explain the fact that mankind has already injured the whole ecosystem.
We no longer live in harmony with wildlife, which has begun to seem almost mythological. Zoos and natural history museums are important places for the appreciation of nature, but they are man-crafted reproductions, like modern Noah's arks.
I frame each subject trying to cut off most of the clues regarding its synthetic character, in order to create the illusion that the pictures are actual wildlife photographs.
All the images are taken in natural history museums. I have managed to take pictures in Stockholm, Bucharest, Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Paris, Toulouse, Dublin, and New York.
Have you ever seen any of these animals in real life?
When entering a museum in Stockholm I thought of a childhood memory: When I was a child my grandfather often took me and my brother on long hikes in the mountains. One day, as we were walking through a forest, he told us to stand still, and showed us a deer standing 30 feet from us. I recall thinking that I would see a lot of wild animals in my life, but I came to understand that I would see them only in museums.
Which photo is your favorite?
My favorite image is the one of a flying bird seen from behind, in an unusual sunset light, a mixture of blue and pink. The fact that the subject is not facing the camera evokes an ending or a goodbye.