“Witnessing death is shocking,” says Isabella Rozendaal, “but it is also cathartic. To realise that we too are mortal and vulnerable, and all made of the same flesh and blood strikes me as healthy. It puts life into perspective.
“That is not to say that I don’t still feel conflicted, like any hunter, meat eater or consumer of natural goods does, or should do. We live in a world where human dominance over non-human animals is simply assumed, made possible by powerful ideology, an ideology that differs in every culture, but is the same in essence.”
Born in Amsterdam in 1983, Rozendaal has been photographing animals since her student days at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. Her book Animalia Amsterdam: Pet Portraits features over 100 images, and her new book and exhibition, Isabella Hunts: Photographing Hunting Cultures, shows images of hunters and prey from around the world shot over the last 12 years.
Focusing in on the Nukini people in the Brazilian Amazon (for whom hunting is as mundane as going to the supermarket), to European hunting rites (traditions which are a product of old aristocratic rituals), to American enthusiasts (shaped by the Romantic, pioneer wilderness ideal but supported by a vast commercial hunting industry), her images seek to question our concept of nature and our place in the food chain.
“Shaped by the canon of Golden Age painters and Romantic thinkers, but also by the modern narrative of the nature documentary, I had grown to expect certain things from nature,” she says. “It played the role of a beautiful backdrop I could saunter along, but never be part of. I was never more than a passive onlooker. The hunter intends to be part of this place, to impact it, to take from it, to ingest it.”
Isabella Hunts: Photographing Hunting Cultures by Isabella Rozendaal is on show from 09 February – 12 May, 2019 at Fotomuseum Den Haag, Stadhouderslaan 43 2517 HV Den Haag, The Netherlands. The accompanying book is published on 16 February www.fotomuseumdenhaag.nl/en https://isabellarozendaal.com