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by Kent Rogowski
Photography / Stuffed Animals
8.25 x 10.25
59 four-color photographs
“What kind of inhuman, paranoid, and selfish human being would do such a cruel thing to these once soft to the touch creatures? These ‘teddy bears’ or at least that’s what they were, look like nothing I have ever seen. And yet, as all the horror and disbelief fade by, you see the true meaning behind this scheme. These things look more adorable then before. You think to yourself, ‘Wow this bear has gone through a 360-degree life change, literally, and yet he still has a smile on.’ Now that’s what you call a man’s best friend.”
—Matthew Stefanski, 14, Student at Bayonne High School, Bayonne, NJ
Bears, the first book by Kent Rogowski, is a series of portraits of the most unusual sort: ordinary teddy bears that have been turned inside out and restuffed. Each animal’s appearance is determined by the necessities of the manufacturing process. Simple patterns and devices never meant to be seen are now prominent physical characteristics, giving each one a distinctly quirky personality: their fasteners become eyes, their seams become scars, and their stuffing creeps out in the most unexpected places. Together these images form a topology of strange yet oddly familiar creatures. They are at once hideous yet cuddly, disturbing yet endearing, absurd yet adorable, while offering a metaphor for us all to consider. These bears, which have lived and loved and lost as much as their owners, have suffered and endured through it all. It is by virtue of revealing their inner core might we better understand our own.
Kent Rogowski received his MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000. He has received numerous awards, including the Center Award from the Center of Photographic Art, and was selected as finalist for the Calumet/Friends of Photography Emerging Artist Award and the Nerve.com Emerging Artist Award. Rogowski also produced a feature length documentary film on drug trafficking and immigration called Al Otro Lado. It premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival in 2005 and made it’s theatrical premier at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2006. It was also broadcast nationwide on PBS’s P.O.V. in 2006. Rogowski currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.