Is it a horse? No, there is something funny with that nose, that does not look like the nose of a horse. What is it? The gallery owner helps me: it is an anteater. His blurry head fills almost the entire image, which reflects the crazy muzzle flash. It's like being on the verge of kissing the beast, so up close was the black-and-white photo taken.
The one who took that photo was Aram Tanis. He presents his latest photographic installation Urban Jungle. Over the past seven years Tanis traveled to Asia where, without becoming clear at which location the photographs were taken, he captured urban daily life. And in a way he didn't. In these cities with her millions of citizens he constantly looked for places and situations where people were absent. That is, his pictures, show us human traces in the form of high-rise buildings, the swarming of electricity wires and dirty sidewalks. But the people seem to be wiped from the earth, like the first day after a catastrophe.
Only the animals are there. The anteater. A dog without head or tail, which falls outside the scope of the picture. A white parrot on a stick fills almost the entire image, like the bald corpse of a plucked duck. Here flies the combination of these animals and the desolation of the city you almost to the throat, while the series also contains beautiful individual images.
Urban Jungle is the result of a thorough empirical investigation into how the urban environment is being experienced. It is great how Tanis managed to turn his investigations into an installation that the viewer can actually feel. At that moment the photographer is in complete control.
If you’ve been reading our magazine you will have heard of Aram. We featured a portfolio of him in the Dutch Heroes issue. This title suits him too, especially when you take a look at his new book. Urban Jungle is a collection of black and white photographs, which he took during his travels in Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai and Tokyo. Aram finds himself in an urban jungle that is turning into an urban zoo. With this book Tanis invites us to take a voyeuristic look at our fellow earthlings as though they are animals in a zoo.