I went to the Herbert Gallery in Coventry recently to see a photography exhibition called Face to Face. In a large room were 30 huge 2 metre portrait photographs of Apes, with a small explanation of the Ape and it’s characteristics.
Standing next to these huge images was certainly a good way of putting an audience face to face with the Apes and I really felt like their purpose was to reflect the similarities between them and humans. With all of the images scaled exactly the same with an extreme close-up of their faces I felt like the eyes were the most important part of the pictures. It seemed to me like each Ape had an individual personality, with some looking sad, hopeful and really conveying different emotions.
The most interesting thing for me about the exhibition was that the most obscure image seemed to be most human-like of all the Apes. This particular Ape was severely mistreated, boxed up for years and ultimately became mentally ill.
This Ape seemed to summarise the whole idea behind the project. I felt that the purpose was to put the audience in a position where they were to feel sympathy, shame and relation to the subject. Apes are our closest relatives and the project encourages us to examine our treatment of these animals that aren’t so different from us. The mistreated Ape reflected the damage a human is capable of and yet still reflected a distant relative.