‘Beasts’, a series of black-and-white, silver gelatin photographs was shot inside the Biologiska museet, Stockholm, a museum which housed a 360-degree diorama depicting a panoramic sweep of the Nordic wilderness, in an elaborate mise-en-scène combining taxidermy with a painted backdrop. The museum remained almost unchanged between 1893 and its unexpected closure midway through Byrne’s production, in 2017.
The artist’s interest in the museum was first inspired by the peculiar visual appearance of the diorama, which is illuminated solely by natural light entering from roof skylights. For Byrne, this dependence on daylight blurred the distinction between museum and camera. With its skylights functioning as lens aperture and its diorama of taxidermy animals poised in frozen photographic stasis, the Biologiska Museet appeared proto-photographic, it’s diorama a foreshadow of the Photograph itself. ‘Beasts’ is testament to in-animation; each print pictures the carefully poised relationship between photography and deadness.