Arts·Video

Alice Zilberberg's stoic digital animal artwork encourages calmness and nature conservation

Zilberberg hopes her work will inspire the viewer to take their own moment of quiet reflection and help us be protective of our natural world.

Zilberberg hopes her work will help us be protective of our natural world

Zilberberg hopes her work will inspire the viewer to take their own moment of quiet reflection and help us be protective of our natural world. 3:59

It's difficult to stay in the present moment sometimes. We live in a fast-paced world, where technology connects us to more information, accessible in more locations, with increasing speed. As each new ding or notification drives us on to the next thing, it is sometimes impossible to stay focused and authentically engage. While some might look to vinyasa yoga or grab the closest zabuton to wind down, one artist is hoping to inspire calm through her work.

Toronto-based artist Alice Zilberberg is working on a digital series entitled Meditations — minimalist animal montages meant to encourage mindfulness, well-being and nature conservation. This is because for her, "calmness and nature [go] hand in hand."

Alice Zilberberg taking a photo. (CBC Arts)

Zilberberg's artwork has a surreal quality to it, combining multiple photographs to create one image. Her subjects are animals, posed stoically and isolated against a tonally muted and barren landscape. Scrolling through her Instagram, you can almost hear the sound of gentle ocean waves accompanying some of the pieces. But while the aesthetic may seem minimalist, she works meticulously on compositing each frame — which is evident in this video by filmmaker Alexander Desouza.

Zilberberg refers to her works as digital paintings. She begins by photographing animals where they live, from zoos to the wild. Then she digitally cuts them out from their environment and places them into another — shot in various desolate locations all over the world. In this process, she is literally displacing the animals from their habitats, as a reflection on how human beings do this regularly. 

(Alice Zilberberg)

Be warned, taking in the solitude of this work may lead to deep contemplation and gratitude — at least that's the goal.

Zilberberg hopes her Meditations series will inspire each viewer to take their own moment of quiet reflection and allow themselves to be more present and protective of our natural world. "We're inspired one day, and then the next day we just forget," she says.

About the Author

Lucius Dechausay is a video producer at CBC Arts, as well as a freelance illustrator and filmmaker. His short films and animations have been screened at a number of festivals including The Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs. Most recently he directed KETTLE, which is currently streaming at CBC Short Docs.

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