Photo Essay

Shadow Within

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Shadow Within explores man's relation to the wolf and ultimately, to himself. Photographer Christian Houge invites us to contemplate the raw nature and purity that the wolf represents and how this reflects the condition of man and his own shadows in society.

The wolf is one of the most respected and most feared animals. He is a wise creature and seen as a symbol of destruction. In so many cultures around the world, the wolf contains an aura of respect, often symbolizing the masculine and feminine in its behavior. In Scandinavia, the wolf has a central role in Norse mythology.

The wolf is also widely misunderstood. Within our minds, we've created a monster of this animal - a predator of danger and evil as told through folklore and children's fairytales. We used to share the forests with this great social hunter and when livestock and fences were acquired, the wolf was seen as a threat to our lives. Wolf attacks are rare, yet we are still terrified by their gaze, howl, and jaws.

Houge reveals the wolf's natural habitat by capturing in his photos the mysterious cracks in the mountains, the different types of holes they retreat to, and their reflections in water - metaphors for the inner/outer way we operate as humans. We can look to the wolf as an opportunity to learn about our own shadow. They can reflect back to us the parts of ourselves we are afraid to see: fear, social hierarchy, aggression, and loneliness.

Houge discovered this untamed animal has a 'likeness' to man in social behavior. "Gradually, I was forced to search within my own being and my own shadow sides," he said. "I wish to invite the viewer to feel his own instincts and nature in himself."

The Shadow Within photo series (2010-2013) was shown at the Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco in the summer of 2013.

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