Film created by Maria Whiteman 2011/12
Royal Alberta Museum of Natural History
Visitors to our national parks arrive burdened with a desire that is unnerving despite (or perhaps, because of) how common it has become. This is the desire to encounter the bodies of wild animals. For most, it is enough to catch a glimpse of an animal moving through the forest or escaping into the underbrush. For others, the pull of animal bodies is so powerful that they want contact: closer, closer still, moving forward in hope, fear, anticipation, expectation. All that is missing in the sometimes deadening conveniences of modern life are condensed into the possibility of a touch between two living, unlike species.
The images are of my hand slowly caressing mammals in the storage room of a natural history museum. In such places, even when the bodies of animals are no longer alive, the fact that they are placed in dioramas behind glass and shielded from our hands, makes us want to touch them. “Touching” explores our desire for contact, investigating the intimacy of animal bodies. It does so in a way that mourns their death; it mourns, too, that gap in our present sense