This travelling exhibition presents the rhinoceros as an object of spectacle, study, currency and desire. It refers to the complex history of colony, power and acquisition in relation to early collections of natural history, and the relevance of this to 21st century collections, as well as the crisis in which many species find themselves today.
Starting with Dürer’s 1515 rhinoceros engraving, where he referred to the image as abconderfet, an accurate copy of an absent original, the exhibition draws on a history of printmaking and reproduction, particularly poignant in the current context where the rhinoceros, threatened by extinction, is poised to become a digital image only. The exhibition points to these lacunae, and, framed by a bisected rhino-sized crate, contains no real specimens, presenting the rhinoceros in fragments. Intended as a future travelling exhibit to Europe and the USA in the attitude of the 18th-19th century, the ‘main attraction’ is absent. It includes images, texts and objects reproductions from museum collections, zoos, and public archives, that draw across time periods and continents.