Robin Schwartz and her daughter Amelia love animals. More than average pet owners, Robin and Amelia live in a world full of exotic animals. Robin says, “My daughter and I share an affinity with the animal kingdom and we play out our fantasies and explore our eccentricities by creating a cultural space where animals not only co-exist with humans, but also interact as full partners.”
Robin spent a decade, from 2002 to 2012, taking portraits of Amelia with exotic animals – both those in their everyday life and ones they visited at wildlife parks and elsewhere. “The animals in the photographs are living creatures, participants in the dramas that the photographs capture. The world that my daughter and I explore is one where the line between human and animal overlaps or is blurred, where animals are part of our world and humans are part of theirs,” Robin says.
She adds that her photographs are not “documents,” but rather “they are evidence of the invented worlds that we explore and the fables we enact together. Photography gives us the opportunity to access our dreams, to discover the extraordinary.”
Robin’s photos of Amelia and the animals they feel so close to have been described as surreal, and some of them certainly are, but there is also something incredibly real about all of them. They capture an existence in tune with nature, a rarity in the digital age. When you look at Robin’s photos, you can almost smell the dirt and water and mud and feed and poop that goes along with caring for animals, that great musk of the earth I remember from my childhood.
Amelia’s bond with these animals is clearly very personal to her, and these photos provide a window into an intimate, bizarre and beautiful world.
Photo site My Modern Met notes, “If you enjoyed this series, you should also check out Tippi of Africa featuring a young girl who is best friends with African wildlife.” Definitely do! It’s wonderful.