A devastating fire claimed a piece of Parisian history last year when the 150-year-old taxidermy store Deyrolle was destroyed, taking with it the Left Bank shop’s collection of rare stuffed animals. More a museum of natural history than a store, Deyrolle’s menagerie—which contained zebras, polar bears, rare beetles and even fossils, among others—was reduced nearly to ashes. From that wreckage comes Martin d’Orgeval’s haunting “Touched by Fire,” a series of photographs of the ruined store and burned animal hides. To a Parisian, seeing these images would be like attending an open-casket funeral of a dear family member—the city was dismayed by the loss of the landmark, and d’Orgeval’s images capture the spirit of mourning. Fire moves rapidly but doesn’t consume everything in its path—d’Orgeval’s images show a goose that escaped unscathed while a cat below was burned to a crisp. The sunlight that filters through the wreckage only enhances the texture of the charcoal walls and barren hides in the store. Worse still, but exquisite, are the photos of the largest animal victims, their skins blackened and bubbled as if they had been burned alive (one unfortunate zebra’s hide simply melted off). The animals of Deyrolle are twice unlucky—their first untimely end met at the hands of poachers or hunters, their second to a fire—but through d’Orgeval’s lens, they live again.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW FROM 11:30 A.M.–5 P.M. TUE.-FRI., AND NOON-5 P.M. SAT., TO APRIL 30, AT ADAMSON GALLERY, 1515 14TH ST. NW. FREE. (202) 232-0707.