“My daughter and I share an affinity with the animal kingdom and we play out our fantasies and explore our eccentricities by creating a cultural space where animals not only co-exist with humans, but also interact as full partners.” —Robin Schwartz
Robin Schwartz might have created a whole new genre of photography: the interspecies family portrait. Pairing her daughter, Amelia, with a variety of animals—gibbon apes, dogs, kangaroos, llamas—Schwartz produces images that are both familiar and fantastical. In one image, a sleepy-eyed Amelia cuddles with a hairless cat on a white bedspread. In another, she clings to a clothed monkey the way a sister hugs a brother. “The photographs are not documents,” Schwartz says. “They are evidence of an invented world and the fables we enact in that world.” It is a world in which “the line between human and animal overlaps or is blurred."
Schwartz began photographing her daughter with animals when Amelia was three years old, beginning with a chimpanzee. Now, ten years later, Amelia is equal parts subject and collaborator. She contributes ideas about what to wear, how to pose, and how to interact with the animals; from foxes to primates, Amelia’s list of potential animal participants is always expanding. None of it would be possible, Schwartz says, if not for Amelia’s patience and her preternatural ease in the presence of animals.
Born in New Jersey 1957, Schwartz’s work has been included in over fifty books and has appeared inThe New York Times, O Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Interview Magazine, and more. Her third monograph, Amelia’s World, was published by The Aperture Foundation. Her photographs are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and San Francisco, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, among other institutions.