“From my perspective I can say they have distinct personalities just like people”
– Pawel Bogumil
Man, the naked ape, has the brain power to acquire things and shape the word in his desire for more. Propelled by reason, atavistic impulses, vanity and validation, humanity pushes on. But what of our cousin, the ape? If a million and more years ago mankind got the brain, what did the great apes get?
In his riff on the human condition when in 1950 he accepted the Nobel Prize in Literature, Bertrand Russell (May 18, 1872–February 2, 1970) told the audience in Stockholm:
“Human beings show their superiority to the brutes by their capacity for boredom, though I have sometimes thought, in examining the apes at the zoo, that they, perhaps, have the rudiments of this tiresome emotion. However that may be, experience shows that escape from boredom is one of the really powerful desires of almost all human beings.”
The bars, moats and toughened glass hold the apes in their cages. But can they escape in their mind’s eye? Do they dream themselves away?
During a visit to Germany from his home in Poland, Pawel Bogumil paid a visit the Berlin zoo. He stopped by Ivo, a male gorilla who appeared more interested in the human visitors than his fellow inmates. “What was unexpected was I saw emotion of happiness or triumph,” Bogumil said. “I wasn’t expecting to see emotions.”
He began to work on a three-year project that focused on primates kept in zoos around Europe. He took their pictures, and created black or white backgrounds to negate the hermetic zoo. He called the work ‘InHuman’.
“I was trying to anthropomorphize a lot of those pictures to see the human aspects of them,” he said. “I’ve never had an opportunity to see primates living free; I was only observing primates inside zoo gardens.”
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