Bio : Robin Schwartz’s photographs are in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, The National Museum of Art, Washington, D.C., The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Chrysler Museum of Art, The Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and The Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany. In addition they have appeared in The New York Times, FADER Magazine, Interview, People, Entertainment Weekly, and The Photo District News. She has worked on assignment for Life and Sports Illustrated Magazines. Schwartz’s work has been included in the Aperture Foundation and The Chrysler Museum of Art publication; Photography Speaks: 150 Photographers on Their Art, 2004.
Robin Schwartz is an only child. She takes pictures of her only child, Amelia. Together, she claims they “play out our eccentricities in worlds where she and animals not only co-exist, but also interact.” Her photos, which often feature Amelia with an array of exotic animals, are strange and compelling.
Artist Statement : My photographs are drawn from real journeys undertaken with my daughter, Amelia. I am driven to depict relationships with animals but the photographs are not documents; 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.
Animals and interspecies relationships have always been an important part of my work. The animals in my photographs are not represented as beasts or nobility but as part of our everyday world. My first monograph, a series of primates at home with humans, guided me to the places of my own childhood fantasies.
I photograph myself with animals through Amelia. I am an only child who has an only child. Each of us has a strong fantasy world. Amelia and I play out our eccentricities in worlds where she and animals not only co-exist, but also interact. Animals are not props in my photographs and they are not photo-shopped in. The world that my daughter and I explore is one where the line between human and animal overlaps or is blurred.
Amelia and I both a strong connection to animals, but we are very different. I have always been obsessed with animals, having a necessity their company, driven to have animals in all aspects of my life and work. I work at my relationship to animals. Amelia is not driven or obsessed in my way, she is not self-conscious with animals as I am. Amelia has a remarkable comfort level with animals and they with her. Amelia is oblivious that this is a usual gift.
An artist photographing her child can invite ridicule, but getting personal with my projects has always been both my need and my edge. The Amelia’s World project has evolved with my daughter’s maturing personality and aptitude. Amelia is my priority, my muse, my co-conspirator, my tormentor and my bliss. Collaborating with Amelia, I am able to go to any place in time.
“Animals and interspecies relationships have always been an important part of my work…My first monograph, a series of primates at home with humans, guided me to the places of my own childhood fantasies.” - Robin Schwartz
"I have always been drawn to animals. Amelia and I share the same obsession with rubber-faced, vintage toy monkeys (J.Fred Mugs). One of my earliest memories is of seeing an illustration of a chimp in a plastic or vinyl book and being mesmerized by its face." - Robin Schwartz
Robin uses animals to draw on fables that include animals and their interaction with her daughter. The interaction between the two is shown through posed images of made-up worlds. Using these fable as a basis for interspecies interaction is really interesting to me. I think it is difficult to illustrate the interaction of two species in a conceptual way. Most animal and human photographs seem very documentary like with the cuteness appeal of the animals having a lot to do with its success. I think Robin does a good job of illuminating the cuteness factor and making it into something more.