Thanks to an ability to charm her way into the archives of some of the world's most esteemed museums of natural history, Dutch photographer Danielle van Ark
has been documenting taxidermy collections for over half a decade. Recognizing something special when we saw it, we welcomed the chance to
share an exclusive selection of Van Ark's series "The Mounted Life"
when the artist contacted us through our open editorial submissions
(where we receive and review content ideas from our readers). Van Ark's predilection for stuffed animals was sparked 15 years ago, when she felt compelled to preserve her pet hamster. But it wasn’t until 2005 that the project finally took off as a series, following a visit by Van Ark to the Natural History Museum in Leiden, not far from her native Amsterdam. “There was a donkey staring at the door as if he wanted to leave,” she explains, adding, without a hint of irony, “it was very moving.” The artist now wields backstage access to 33 museums across Europe and North America, and she aims to package the entire collection into a book. So how does she achieve her poignant and otherworldly results? “I am a conceptual documentary photographer—I never move or touch the animals,” she says. “The idea is that I take photos of how the work was put away, and that is where the absurd comes from.”