The Fussy Eye: Lupine Tendencies

What's your spirit animal?

Judging from his use of an old wolf pelt (PETA members stay away), you might think Canadian photographer Ted Hiebert has a thing for wolves. The name of this large-panel series, so carefully lit that the photos appear painterly, is Werewolf Stories. In these somber self-portraits, Hiebert crouches and contorts himself in various poses. He doesn't so much wear the wolf skin as encounter it. The once-living animal is suggested by the fur being draped over different coiled positions, like a series of static dances. (Or wolf-skin yoga, perhaps?) Using a black light gives these photographs an eerie, purplish glow; instead of being printed on paper, they almost seem to be painted on black velvet. Hiebert, a UW art instructor, speaks of the photos "channeling and a possession, where the disappearance of representation allows for a converse moment of uncanny apparition." Put differently: Is he wearing the wolf, or is the wolf wearing him?!? There's a shamanic interchange between species here, at the threshold between taxidermy (and its false preservation) and drama—a living work or live performance. 

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