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?