The series “Garden of Memory : Animals and Plants” was conceived betwen 2008 and 2014. Constructed like a visual Noah’s Ark, this series of portraits of stuffed animals and greenhouse plant specimens is a photographic testament for future generations, whose memories of the planetary fauna and flora will certainly limit itself to the specimens conserved in museums like the Natural History Museum in New York.
Takeshi Shikama created over thirty photographs of these animal species which were gathered throughout the world and staged in dioramas of the famous American institution. The trompe l’œil paintings and natural or artificial plants help recreate the habitats of these great wild cats, bears, deer, monkeys, birds and other creatures, which only great explorers witness in their natural environment. Using a variation of angles, tightening the camera frame within each scenography, the photographer blurs the edges between reality and fiction and, paradoxically, in the act of photographing them, brings these inanimate objects to life.
For the plant series, Takeshi Shikama proceeds like a botanist harvesting samples to create a herbiary. The photographer immortalized dozens of specimens throughout greenhouses in Japan, the United States and Europe. From succulents, used to arid conditions, to tropical plants, which thrive in humid climates, Takeshi Shikama privileged the formal singularity of each plant to obtain a wide array of styles and textures. Working with shadow and light as does a painter, he captured sensual curves, tentacular roots and obscure folds in each specimen, seeking to reveal their mystery, to penetrate the secret life contained in their sap.