Volker Seding

Germany 1943 - 2007


Volker Seding
Volker Seding
March 6, 2016
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

Wildlife species were meant to live in the wild. However, across the globe, some of the most majestic animals are being taken from their natural habitats and bred in zoos to be used for public exhibition. Their lives inspired Volker Seding, an internationally renowned German photographer, who devoted over fifteen years of his career to capturing touching images of exotic species in captivity. The result was a number of exquisitely composed photographs of depressed looking animals in manmade settings. Lions, tigers, monkeys, giraffes and elephants are captured in the moments of loneliness and sadness in enclosures with no socialization, enrichment or joy.

Volker Seding - Snow Leopard, Madison, Wisconsin, Animal Kingdom Series (Left) / Elephant, Toronto, Animal Kingdom Series (Right) gallery 1999 print home 2002 help
Volker Seding – Snow Leopard, Madison, Wisconsin, Animal Kingdom Series (Left) / Elephant, Toronto, Animal Kingdom Series (Right)

Life in Captivity by Volker Seding

Keeping wild animals in cages is a tradition that humans are performing for a long and there are not many people in the world who have not visited a zoo in their lifetime. Zoos, contrary to what most of the people believe, not infrequently cause serious suffering and stress to the locked up animals. They are caged for life and deprived of the possibility to achieve the full range of their interests and needs. Seding, who was born in Germany in 1943 and moved to Canada aged 23, spent fifteen years exploring hundreds of zoos located across North America and Europe making painstaking and extremely sad photographs of the animals closed in artificial, stressful, and downright boring conditions far from the wild forests where they belong. The portraits of resigned, weary and solitary captive creatures perfectly depict the desolation and deprivation of zoos. But, Seding’s images not only that focus our attention on their subjects, but also capture the proximity and estrangement of humans in relation to other life forms. His photographs show the men’s carelessness towards the animal world and their environment.

Seding’s portraits of resigned, weary and solitary captive creatures perfectly depict the desolation of zoos.

Volker Seding - Tigers, Oklahoma City (Left) / Sleeping Lion, Jacksonville, Florida (Right), photo credits Ffoto Image, print sign 1999 help
Volker Seding – Tigers, Oklahoma City (Left) / Sleeping Lion, Jacksonville, Florida (Right), photo credits Ffoto Image

Later Work and Collections

Although Volker Seding is most known for his Animal Kingdom and Captive series, his work also includes the Facades Project, the Mainstreet Project, the Metalworks Project, and China Series Project, among others. Trained in cinematography and photography, he has worked as a filmmaker, and for the last twenty-five years, a fertile photographer. His multiple photographic projects highlight his artistic ability to observe, reinvent, and motivate. In recent years, the lensman, who died in 2007, has approached his subject matter from the viewpoint of a witness. This is true with one of his latest series, the Facades Project, lyrical architectural portraits of building facades from Toronto, Paris, New York City, New Albany, Indiana and other locales. By drawing the viewer’s imagination upward from our usual vantage point to the undetected stories, the artist challenges the observers to reconsider out ordinary visual complacency. His work has been on display in many notable galleries across North America and can be found in numerous important institutions and private collections including Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others.

Volker Seding is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto.

Featured image: Volker Seding – Hippopotamus (detail), Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, photo credits Ffoto Image
All images copyright © Estate of Volker Seding

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
201520th Anniversary: A Group Exhibition Celebrating 20 YearsStephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, CanadaGroup
2011Bestial EncountersWinnipeg Art Gallery, WinnipegGroup
2010Natural HistoryJustina M. Barnicke Gallery, TorontoGroup
2010The Toronto ShowStephen Bulger Gallery, TorontoGroup
2007CaptifsBibliothèque Publique Eleanor London Côte Saint-LucSolo
2007Volker Seding: Animal KingdomStephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2006Volker SedingArt Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2005NY: Faking Death: Canadian Art PhotographyJack Shainman Gallery, New YorkGroup
2004Volker Seding: FacadesJoseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, CASolo
2004Volker SedingStephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2004Faces, Places Traces: New Acquisitions to the Photographs CollectionNational Gallery of Canada, OttawaGroup
2003Volker SedingAriel Meyerowitz Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2003Queen StreetStephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, CanadaGroup
2002Animal LogicStephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, CanadaGroup
2001Volker SedingStephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2001Volker Seding, Kevin O'Connell, & Laurie TümerPhoto-Eye Gallery, Santa Fe, USAGroup
2000Volker SedingPhoto Eye Gallery, Santa Fe, New MexicoSolo
1999Volker SedingHalsey Gallery, Charleston, South CarolinaSolo
1998Volker SedingGalerie VOX, Montreal, CanadaSolo
1998Volker SedingStephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
1997UnknownPhoto Eye, Santa Fe, New MexicoGroup
1997UnknownBlue Sky, Portland, OregonGroup
1997UnknownAgnes, Birmingham, AlabamaGroup
1995UnknownAgnes, Birmingham, AlabamaGroup
1995UnknownCanadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa, CanadaGroup
1994Volker SedingMira Godard Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
1992Volker SedingArt and Culture Centre of Hollywood, FloridaSolo
1992UnknownCentre National de la Photographie, ParisGroup
1992UnknownCanadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa, CanadaGroup
1991Volker SedingLinda Hodges Gallery, SeattleSolo
1991UnknownJon Oulman Gallery, MinneapolisGroup
1989UnknownCorcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Group
1988UnknownLinda Hodges Gallery, Seattle, WashingtonGroup
1987Volker SedingJon Oulman Gallery, MinneapolisSolo
1987UnknownFilm in the Cities, St. Paul, MinnesotaGroup
1986UnknownJon Oulman Gallery, MinneapolisGroup
1986UnknownPanhandle Plains Museum, Canyon, TexasGroup
1984Volker SedingEastern Washington University, Photography and Print GallerySolo
1984UnknownMarcus Pfeifer Gallery, New YorkGroup
1984UnknownArt Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, CanadaGroup
1984UnknownVancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, CanadaGroup
1984UnknownThe Photographer’s Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1984UnknownThe Market Gallery, Toronto, CanadaGroup
1983Volker SedingNohra Haime Gallery, New YorkSolo
1983UnknownGallery Zur Stockeregg, Zurich, SwitzerlandGroup
1983UnknownThe Gallery, Stratford, CanadaGroup
1982Volker SedingThe Fountain Fine Arts, Seattle, WashingtonSolo
1982Volker SedingThe Irving Galleries, Palm Beach, FloridaSolo
1982UnknownDazibao, Montreal, CanadaGroup
1982UnknownJane Corkin Gallery, Toronto, CanadaGroup
1982UnknownNational Film Board of CanadaGroup
1982UnknownColorado Photographic Arts Centre, Denver, ColoradoGroup
1981Volker SedingJane Corkin Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
1979Volker SedingA Photographer’s Place, New York, NYSolo
1977A Moment in Time GalleryToronto, CanadaSolo