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Cage - Stereo mirror installation


While visiting zoo's in both Milwaukee and San Francisco, I spent a significant amount of time observing and photographing a number of large cats.  During these observations I began to contemplate the many different forms a cage can take and how they can have different functions depending on your perspective and point of view.  A cage can serve to protect those inside from dangers outside or it can protect those outside from a dangerous element contained within the cage. It can enable its resident to either safely view the world or to be safely viewed by the world.   A cage can be used to protect or entrap. 

The large cats I observed moved between two different types of cages. This cat spend most of its time in a larger more natural looking compound, but was moved to a more secure cage for feeding, cleaning, sleeping and other routine activities required to care for this impressive animal.  What I found interesting is that both these environments were cages even though the cat probably didn’t see the barriers around it.

I began to consider my own life and suddenly realized that I too had spent much of my life moving between different types of cages.  Like this cat I have found my self surrounded by bars and barriers I did not see.  As a child the bars that surrounded me were my family and schools.   These bars kept me safe in a small, protected zone. 

As I grew older I was able to step out through a gate into the much larger compound of my community.  Initially I perceived this as freedom but I have increasingly begun to see the hidden walls, fences and moats.  Cultural values, social norms, economic insecurity, religion all limit what I can achieve.  Does this cage protect me or entrap me?  Does it enable me to watch or be watched?  Should I seek to climb out or like this cat simply choose not to see where I am?