The smaller majority Piotr Naskrecki’s micro world


Piotr Naskrecki’s large images are of small animals. Ninety percent of known animal species are smaller than a fingernail, yet most humans tend to focus their attention on creatures in their own, very much less densely populated size class. Small animals, though, are often extremely spectacular and beautiful. Imagine a praying mantis the size of a tiger: would it not be just as awe-inspiring, if not more? This exhibition is dedicated to animals which, unjustly, otherwise receive little attention. It will change the way you look at katydids, crustaceans, mites, scorpions, moths and flies. Small animals are the majority, and they deserve a bit more of the limelight.

Piotr Naskrecki was born and grew up in Poland. The smallest in his class at school, he was afflicted with both thick glasses and the nickname “the insect”. His interest in small animals started at a very early age, and the opportunity to travel to tropical Southeast Asia and Africa upon finishing school represented the fulfilment of one of his most cherished dreams. This trip would be the beginning of a long journey across six continents. Naskrecki describes both his book and the exhibition “The Smaller Majority” as a “collection of snapshots” from these journeys, but this is putting it very modestly. Almost all of his photos testify to a deep understanding of his photographic subjects, not to mention a great deal of respect and affection for them. This is someone who knows how to find Aztec katydids and glass frogs in the rainforest at night, and who has an instinctive feeling for how best to bring out the unique beauty of creatures held by many, in their ignorance, to be disgusting, dangerous or ugly.

The exhibition and the book pay tribute to the beauty of normally unappreciated animals. They demonstrate how the media limit our view of the animal kingdom by focussing almost exclusively on large mammals and birds, thus distorting the true extent of biodiversity. The biological diversity of the earth is in grave danger, however. Hundreds of hectares tropical primary forest are still being cleared every day, especially in South America and Southeast Asia. Along with the forests, many species are being lost forever, many of which have not yet even been named scientifically. Just as it is still in our power to do something about climate change, it is down to our generation to prevent the mass extinction of species that threatens our earth.

“A master at portraying a miniature world, Piotr Naskrecki is both a conservation biologist who writes about his subjects with authority and conviction and a photographer who makes them come alive with astonishing close-ups. The Smaller Majority is a treasure house of images and information about a world of which most of us are barely aware.”

Frans Lanting