In an untidy apartment in Milan, a lion roars. Nearby, an armadillo sniffs a pile of papers. An ibex is fed up; he can’t see very well for all the bubble wrap around his head. But these aren’t escapees from the zoo; they’re a failed diorama.
Italian photographer Louis De Belle came across this forgotten cabinet of curiosities through a friend, who “collected these items over the years, during travels and safaris all around the world. He started setting up a proper Wunderkammer, but things started to pile up rather quickly and the apartment became a dusty depot.”
Released from the confines of a fusty museum exhibition and randomly plonked among photocopiers and cardboard boxes, these stuffed animals are revitalised. You can imagine them coming to life when no-one’s about, snuffling around, having little pow-wows. Louis says: “I liked the quirky atmosphere and the out-of-context animals – that’s why I called the series Failed Dioramas.”
He didn’t move or change anything on his visits to the apartment yet his photographs capture the bizarre, magical atmosphere of the haphazard place the animals have made their home. Louis says he thought about making a proper taxonomy, but realised “it would not have been the same.” He’s done a lot of research into taxidermy since discovering this treasure trove, but he doesn’t fancy trying his hand at it: “It’s such a creepy world.”