(Above) Forty different apes pose for photographer James Mollison. Click image for larger view.


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WHOEVER SAID ALL APES LOOK ALIKE? Photographer James Mollison shows us 40 straight-on mugshots of various species of apes. Together, we can see the physical differences in, and dare I say, variety of personalities?

Here is what James has to say about his project:

“While watching a nature program on primates I was struck by their facial similarity to our own. Humans are clearly different to animals, but the great apes inhabit that grey area between man and animal. I thought it would be interesting to try to photograph gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans using the aesthetic of the passport photograph- its ubiquitous style inferring the idea of identity.

I decided against photographing in zoos or using ‘animal actors’ but traveled to Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia to meet orphans of the bush meat trade and live pet trade.”


James Mollison was born in Kenya in 1973 and grew up in England. After studying Art and Design at Oxford Brookes University, and later film and photography at Newport School of Art and Design, he moved to Italy to work at Benetton’s creative lab, Fabrica. His work has been widely published throughout the world including by Colors, The New York Times Magazine, the Guardian magazine, The Paris Review, The New Yorker and Le Monde.

His latest book Disciples was published in October 2008 following its’ first exhibition at Hasted Hunt Gallery in New York. In 2007 he published The Memory of Pablo Escobar- the extraordinary story of ‘the richest and most violent gangster in history’ told by hundreds of photographs gathered by Mollison. It was the original follow-up to his work on the great apes – widely seen as an exhibition including at the Natural History Museum, London, and in the book James and Other Apes (Chris Boot, 2004). Mollison lives in Venice with his wife.

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