This photographer creates art with dead flies and the results are pretty hilarious

Instagram / @lemuhr

It’s official. Summer has officially arrived and, with it, the season during which my husband consistently leaves the back door open and lets flies into the house. Out of necessity, I’ve become adept at killing the aforementioned flies with a single flip-flop. Normally, I would then dispose of all the fly carcasses using my trusty dustpan and a trash bin. But am I doing these noble creatures a disservice?

One photographer based in Sweden has taken dead flies and turned them into an artistic medium. Photographer Magnus Muhr simply sketches out a scenario, arranges the dead flies on the drawing, snaps the shot and — voila! — super silly art.

In 2011, he published a collection of these photos titled “The Life of Fly.” But the images have recently gained a new life on social media, as these things tend to do.

Here, for example, is a piece that pays tribute to two artists Muhr happens to know, a model and another photographer. No word on how the model in question feels about being depicted by dead flies but the photographer, Joakim Jonsson, commented on the post that it “[l]ooks just like me!”

In this one, which makes me giggle, a fly has bounced a little too hard off what appears to be a trampoline:

In this one, which is disturbingly meta, a fly brandishes a fly swatter as it chases after a dragonfly:

And Muhr hasn’t only worked with flies. In an ad he did for Fenistil (a skin gel meant to ease itching from sunburns and bug bites), he depicted a mosquito juggling while balanced atop a rolling ball:

In another ad for the same brand, he has a dead bumblebee, a dead wasp and a dead fly working their dance moves at a ballet barre. I would appreciate this one more if wasps didn’t give me the heebie-jeebies:

Muhr began doing his fly photography in 2004, though the photos didn’t begin to gain attention within the wider community until he uploaded them to a Swedish photo site several years later. Someone else shared them on a U.S. site, they caught the attention of the English media and the rest is history!

“I think they’ve become popular as they are very simple and don’t need any text, the language is international and the humour alludes to human feelings and activities,” Muhr told the Daily Mail in 2010.

Muhr goes on to say that though he enjoys making the pictures, “it’s a very trying and fiddly job. It can take hours to make one picture with all the changes and corrections.”

As for whether I should start a similar photo project, Muhr assures us all that, “I collect the flies from all over the place but I never kill them.”

Which, honestly, makes me feel that I’m being judged for my murderous habits.

Ah, well. Best to leave the fly photography to the professionals.

Curiosity, Science & Nature

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About the Author
Steph Auteri
Steph Auteri has written about women's health, sexuality, and sex education for the Atlantic, Pacific Standard, VICE, the Establishment, and other publications. She also nerds out on the regular at Book Riot, teaches vinyasa yoga, and manages to somehow squeeze in the whole motherhood thing.

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