This photograph is titled “Siberian Tiger”, and it’s from a series shot by artist Feng Mengbo in Shanghai’s natural history museum, and which is now on view at the for-profit Shanghai Gallery of Art. Feng is hardly the first artist to photograph old museum dioramas – Hiroshi Sugimoto beat him to it by several decades – but the subject has special resonance in China. On the one hand, the grossly decrepit museum could stand for the neglect of basic science education in Shanghai’s wealth-obsessed culture. On the other, the museum has a hugely colonial flavor, so its neglect can seem like a suitable revenge of the colonized. What does it mean for a Chinese tiger, stuffed by the English, to be left as moth-food today?
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