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Straight-jacketed Chimp

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Image of the Week #21, December 12th, 2011:



From: The WEIRD Evolution of Human Psychology by Eric Michael Johnson at The Primate Diaries.

Original source: Nathaniel Gold

The primate paintings of editorial illustrator Nathaniel Gold have been a part of Eric Michael Johnson’s The Primate Diaries Blog since well before it appeared on the Scientific American Network. This powerful painting of a strait-jacketed chimp is powerful on many levels. It reminds us that we are bound by our ape-brain, our behaviour and sociology and that agreed-upon levels of deviance from the norm are shaped from our evolutionary past as well as our social constructs. And this image cries out to many of us as inhumane. Chimpanzees are often used in Nathaniel’s paintings to great effect, as proxies for ourselves. Here, the mirror can also been seen in reverse. The flipping of the chimpanzee’s identity between self and other along with the harsh yellow creates a sense of dissonance and alarm.



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