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Photo Exhibit Shows Monkeys In Their Natural Habitat — People's Homes

By Nicholas Rizzi | March 1, 2017 4:15pm
 The Alice Austen House Museum's new exhibit, "Like Us: Primate Portraits," features photographs by Robin Schwartz of domesticated monkeys in their homes.
Like Us: Primate Portraits
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ROSEBANK — A new photo exhibit will show monkeys in their natural habitat — drinking soda from a straw on a couch.

"Like Us: Primate Portraits," at the Alice Austen House Museum, features photographs of domestic monkeys taken decades ago by Guggenheim fellow Robin Schwartz.

The black-and-white shots show the monkeys doing traditonally human activities — like eating at a table.

"Photographing animals and the people that are devoted to animals is what I have always cared about and is the driving force in all my work," Schwartz said in a press release about the exhibit.

"Photography and animals are my passport to each other. I see animals as my spiritual connection; my religion; my vice; my addiction."

The series began in the 1980s and it has been rarely shown in galleries, according to the museum. The collection was last exhibited more than 20 years ago.

The series, which Schwartz continued through 1992, depict primates that were kept as pets in homes around the country. The laws banning keeping monkeys as pets have changed significantly since Schwartz began photographing them, the museum said.

Schwartz doesn't take a stand on the issue of domesticating wild animals in the series, but previously said it was the hardest project she's worked on, according to a release from the museum.

As part of the exhibit, which runs until May 28, Schwartz will host a workshop April 22 discussing her pet portraits.

Museum curators said Schwartz's shots work well with some of Austen's and have included a selection of her animal photographs in the exhibit.

Austen frequently photographed her family's cats and her two pugs, Chico and Punch, around her Rosebank home.

The opening reception for "Like Us: Primate Portraits" will be Saturday, March 4, from 3-5 p.m. with the photographer present. For more information, visit the Alice Austen Museum's website.