The Drawers - Craig Ziper   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Weird Queer Freaky Xmas

Both carry weight, Subject and Technique, to become indivisible aspects of Craig Ziper's Dead Bug Series. Bugs, the Subject, and creepy crawliness get under the skin and send a shiver up the spine. They have been of interest since we have been children, a miniscule world that we can control with a squash but which also can sneak up and get us with nearly equal advantage with a bite, sting or deadly injection of venom. Their presence causes an insidious niggle of awareness that they are here - surrounding us, outnumbering us, as ever-present as dust yet they exist primarily just outside the range of our perception.

To bring them into range, Ziper has used an eye far more powerful than our human capabilities, that of the camera, the Technique. His bugs are not a discovery, found in their natural states, but clinically isolated against a sterile white background, similar to the clean environments of modernity. And as they lie (dead) under the scrutiny of a mechanical eye, they assume a contemporary aspect related to design, engineering, systems, architecture and the sophisticated range of civilization where advanced technology aids humanity in reaching beyond personal physical space and perceptual limitations. The freaky and grotesque associations with these air breathing arthropods - their antennas, segmented legs and exoskeletons filled with foreign juices assume a more dignified position in the elevated realm of the photographed context. They become line, form and composition as they have been cropped, suspended, posed but always 'on view'. Unnatural, (another aspect of their 'strangeness') in their stillness, they are no longer able to get us. Instead, they achieve an iconographic beauty.

As their fragilities are revealed through a macro perspective, they provoke contemplation on the perfection of insects and replace the shiver of horror with a thrill at the marvels of existence. Ziper, with a background in naturalist photography (the Museum of Natural History in New York) has honed his technique to our advantage. And it is in this respect that the series elevates above the more utilitarian documentation of the natural sciences and assumes a rightful place in the greatest of cultural quests - that in which the object-hood of the art piece reveals a philosophical truth, that there is more to be seen than immediately meets the eye and in that seeing, we become more enlightened.

Copyright 2007,  Julie Oakes