Camera-Savvy Chimera

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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This week marks the opening of Viktor Koen’s “Bestiary, Bizarre Myths & Chimerical Fancies” at United Photo Industries Gallery (UPI). The show will have an opening celebration on Nov. 3, from 6–9 p.m., and will be on view through Jan. 5, 2017.

Already displayed at the Benaki Museum in Athens last year, this will be the first time these mythology-inspired tintypes are exhibited in the U.S. The work is accompanied by an anthology featuring 24 pieces of fiction, commissioned by editor Hellen Datlow, with an introduction by Jack Ketchum.


“Bestiary,” says Koen, is the product of a long fascination with “Greek legends and early 19th-century photography. Based on hybrid creature descriptions and influenced by religious iconography, myth comes full circle to meet social criticism by molding monstrous archetypes into contemporary commentary. Most importantly, in this series, beasts are separated from their usually singular dimension and assume complex, tragic personalities where monsters and heroes become difficult to tell apart.”


Drawing from the vast pictorial collection of the U.S. Library of Congress, these characters posses the hunting qualities of early photography, when subjects were not camera-savvy and their awe for technology was etched in their expression as, to a certain degree, their souls were captured by the lens. Their photos became psychological portraits way before Koen’s digital intervention made them supernatural.

The UPI Gallery is at 16 Main St., Brooklyn, NY, 11201. Gallery Hours: Tuesday–Friday: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday: 12–4 p.m.


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