In 1988 well before the term “cryptozoology” was popularized, Joan Fontcuberta and Jean Formiguera’s project Fauna was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art. Their faux scientific expeditionary project opened eyes to the beginning phase of what curators and artists have identified as “institutional critique.” Within this genre it holds pride of place as an early direct challenge to institutional authority and the history of science: the bold presentation offered a clever and convincing account of the power of context over content. It was prescient that the object of the critique was a new hybrid animal. The artists’ realistic scientific display of a false creature (a flying monkey) in an art museum setting blurred all boundaries. In a single installation they tapped into the core of the postmodern critique of institutions, revealing authoritative strategies of display and representation while foreseeing a growing interest in hybridity, animals, and cryptozoology.

Joan Fontcuberta was born in 1955 in Barcelona, Spain, where he continues to live and work. He has exhibited extensively at museums and galleries in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, and has been associated with Zabriskie Gallery since 1981. His work is in numerous institutions, including the New York Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. He contributes regularly to scholarly journals and has published many books, including Fauna, Sputnik and Miracles and Co. He is represented by the Zabriskie Gallery, New York.