Ringo, a photograph of one of Arlington National Cemetery’s funerary horses, is part of the exhibit "Charlotte Dumas: Anima," at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art’s photographic exhibition "Charlotte Dumas: Anima" commands attention and stirs emotions with its stunning portraits, glimpses of animals navigating a decidedly human world. Of particular intrigue is a group of large-scale photographs depicting the burial horses of Arlington National Cemetery, a series specially commissioned by the gallery to connect with Washington audiences.
“When I had the opportunity to propose an artist for the Corcoran’s NOW series of contemporary artist exhibitions, Charlotte Dumas was at the front of my mind. She is, I think, one of the best of a new generation of young artists focusing on the subject of animals,” says Paul Roth, senior curator and director of photography and media arts for the gallery. “I knew she wanted to photograph the caisson horses of Arlington National Cemetery—the last military horses in the US who carry the bodies of soldiers to their final resting places—and this seemed like a perfect match for the Corcoran.”
Dumas, who in 2011 photographed the last surviving search and recovery dogs of 9/11, traveled to DC numerous times to capture the horses, shooting mostly at night when they were resting after a day’s work. The resulting works are simply composed yet mesmerizing—evocative, empathetic, and poignant all at once. “Sometimes I spent 30 to 45 minutes with one horse just observing it,” explains Dumas. “It was a moving experience.”
“I think we all want to better understand the animals around us, and Charlotte’s portraits seem to make this possible for this group of beautiful and majestic working animals,” Roth says. “Through the frame of the photograph, I think we are better able to consider what these horses mean to us: both their symbolic meaning, because of the unusual duty they perform, and their historic meaning, as animals whose military function is fading with time.” "Charlotte Dumas: Anima" is on view until October 28 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St. NW, 202-639-1700