This case contains a book containing a mirrored image of an Indian rhinoceros from Conrad Gesner’s Historiae animalium, 1551. This late Renaissance book presented a composite cultural and natural understanding of animals – animals in complex social and associative relationships. The interwoven facts and fictions provide a rich cultural biography of each animal. His book is reproduced here in a symmetrical form, formally echoing the two exhibition crates, which are conceptually designed as two pages of a book, the viewer being the spine that unites the two sections of the codex.
Gesner’s image is closely based on Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut of 1515. Stitched into this spine are labels of contemporary books that also used Dürer’s image as a primary reference for the rhino.