December 4, 2012

Charlotte Cory is a Renaissance woman in every sense of the phrase. The London based artist moonlights as a novelist, designer, playwright, photographer, PhD in Medieval Literature and even a BBC Radio personality. Cory is perhaps best known for her whimsical world of “Visitorians,” a collection of photographs in which she takes Victorian visiting cards and delicately superimposes an animal upon each visitor’s head. This results in some shockingly convincing hybrids: an artist puppy, raccoon gentleman, bear king, rooster soldier, parrot cyclist. Not even Shakespeare was immune; Cory re-imagined him as an ape-headed bard.

Each photograph incites a double-take at how strangely natural they appear, as if all Victorians sported animal heads like a fad unbeknownst to us. At first it may seem Cory crossbreeds her Victorian subjects for a quick laugh, however her uncanny choice of animal conveys deeper, often sinister identities that only a true “spirit animal” can intuit. The photographs have a Darwinian quality to them, communicating animalistic desires and carnal cravings repressed by the subjects.

Cory has an aptitude for the anachronistic. She’s put her Visitorians on antique chairs and lockets and currently on display at the Globe Theater. Even the font on her website was taken from her collection of salvaged type in her very own 1860’s printing press.

Her work is cheeky, erudite and undeniably British. Case in point: the Queen commissioned a few pieces, one of which is a most-fitting portrait of Queen Victoria. With a corgi on her head, naturally.

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