The guinea pig portraits in Pryde’s Scale series conjure associations both with pets in stock photography and with laboratory research, where rodents are commonly used. Additionally, there are historical links to the slave trade. Originally from South America, in the 1600s guinea pigs were shipped to Europe as curiosities aboard slave–trading vessels, called Guineamen, that traveled between Guinea, England, and South America—one possible source for the animals’ name. Pryde deploys words and props—ribbon, string, and Mylar—to instill personality in the animals’ deadpan expressions but also plays with photographic conventions, manipulating the subjects through close-ups, double exposures, and shifts in focus.
Gallery label from New Photography 2013, September 14, 2013–January 6, 2014.