The opportunity to see an exotic animal in a zoo or circus is, for some people, an exciting and joyous activity. For others, the experience is burdened by the thought of animals in captivity, and the fact that the creatures have often been transplanted from their natural habitats to urban enclosures where their basic instincts are suppressed.
Touched in this vein, Parisian photographer Eric Pillot sought to capture the juxtaposition of spectacle versus nature. While visiting various parks and zoos throughout Europe, Eric used his artistic eye to examine not only the animals that dwelled within, but also the architecture of the enclosures themselves. The result is the photographic series In Situ, which is at once whimsical and haunting. Eric draws attention to the fact that, while the animals might be well fed, protected and cared for, they will never have the opportunity to run free on open plains, swim in wild lagoons, soar freely through the sky, or face a natural predator as part of the circle of life. He also seeks to engage viewers with their own basic animal instincts, encouraging them to consider how they are impacted by their environment. In turn, each of the animals takes on a seemingly human characteristic, from the graceful flamingo peeking out shyly from behind a wall, to the polar bear slumped languidly – as if on a couch – on an arid rock bed far from the icy landscape of the Arctic.
Before turning his hand to photography, Eric spent his time exploring the fields of science and engineering. These days, much of his photographic work focuses on the behaviour and body language of zoo animals.