Culture-specific

If there is one label I really dislike, it is the one people use so often to express their lack of knowledge about something: exotic. Isn’t that word just another way of saying weird?

And isn’t weird something that WE do not think normal? As far as I know, what one person considers different is what he other person judges usual. And vice-versa.

So, having said that, here are some of my favorite animals from the lovely cerrado:

the most endearing ant-eater

Most of these are a rare sight, especially for those like me who live in the city. You have to go into the countryside to be able to see these creates, most of which are also extremely shy to human contact.

capibaras

Capibaras are an easier species to be spotted. They are rodents which reproduce like rabbits and are as big as dogs, making them quite easy to be noted. These quiet-looking animals love to live by the water and are good divers too.

a greater rhea

Greater rheas are the South American cousins of the ostrich. They are very graceful birds who can run really fast across the fields. A wonderful sight for those who look careful.

Animals, especially large ones, are such a common source for myths and inspiration across cultures it is a shame we don’t stop to pay attention to them in a more proper way.

When you think about it, most people grow up listening to various stories about the mythical animals in their surroundings. In one way or the other, they end up being part of who we are.

To my greatest delight I came across some of Estelle Hanania‘s photography works today, and basically liked them immediately:

from the Parking Lot Hydra series

When I first looked at these pictures, I thought about North American indigenous people. But Estelle is French.This made me recall the fact that falconry was a crucial part of French middle-age life. Children there must listen to lots of stories concerning falcons and the brave men who used them for so many different purposes.

More from the 2009 series

Exotic or however we may choose to call them, beasts of all shapes and colors have always been present in the arts we produce. And even though artists might not depict them in obvious ways, our lovely companions on the planet will continue to be part of our psyche, even when we live very far from them.

It’s all in the culture.

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