A Maine Coon with the patience of a Buddhist monk and the soul of a philosopher, Lorenzo the Cat was born on Halloween and tossed in a garbage can at birth—a taumatic ordeal that he has fully recovered from without the aid of psychotherapy.
Joann Biondi is a Miami-based photographer and journalist whose work has appeared in dozens of publications including The New York Times, Miami Herald, National Geographic Traveler, and Travel & Leisure.
She adopted Lorenzo when he was a few weeks old and instantly sensed that she had a natural model on her hands—for Lorenzo, the camera was catnip. He loved it. And he loved wearing clothes. It was as if he knew that that’s what he was put on the planet to do. Wear clothes, pose for the camera, and make people laugh.
They have a lot of fun together, Biondi and Lorenzo, and what takes place between them is nothing less than a respectful collaboration. Lorenzo knows what’s going on. When the clothes come out and the lens cap is removed, he’s ready to go to work. He is an active, earnest participant in the shoot. And when he’s in the mood, he can totally work it, serve it, slam it, and bring it on home.
Yes, Biondi attributes “human characteristics” to Lorenzo, and to claims that she is guilty of anthropomorphism she says, feh! Like Charles Darwin, she sees the difference between humans and animals as a matter of degree rather than kind, and believes cats—and all animals—do indeed feel and express emotions. She thinks there is an innate intelligence inside Lorenzo’s furry little head, and she tries to capture that intelligence in her photographs. And she does so naturally; no Photoshop magic wand involve.
Biondi’s photos challenge preconceived notions of what a cat will or will not do. They lie outside the grid of convention, and deliver a new perspective on the cliché of cats being stubborn and aloof. It is the juxtaposition of human clothing on a cat’s body that renders them startling, and at the same time, enchanting, intriguing, and compelling. Simple yet strange, the photos are a testament to the inherent beauty in the feline form. They spark the imagination, force us to smile, and speak to the bond among all sentient beings.
And they are thump on the head to anyone who believes that animals don’t have souls.