The zoo, once seen as the realm of innocent childhood treats, has more recently become controversial. Do we, as sentient beings, have the right to confine other sentient beings behind bars, depriving them of their freedom, their natural pleasures and their chance to roam? Is the intention of zoos to satisfy our voyeuristic inclinations or to act as an essential part of conservation efforts?
Britta Jaschinski's exquisite photographs are not meant explicitly to answer any questions - but they do make us think. They owe their inspiration to portraiture rather than documentation, creating an atmosphere rather than making a statement. Shrouded in darkness, dimly seen, the animals in these photographs have a shadowy, almost enigmatic, presence that excites our curiosity and draws us in. Our glimpses of them tend to be partial, fragmentary - from a furry hand gripping an iron bar to sea lions floating just below the surface of a pool. Polar bears stare from a rocky stage, a zebra stands stock still and quiet. All of them have a melancholy dignity, commanding a sense of respect in the viewer which is tinged with unease.
Jaschinski's involvement and empathy is evident throughout but she never allows it to intrude. Instead she has given us an arresting series of pictures and created a beautiful and important book.
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This book is not for children, nor is it likely to be recycled as a calendar or a booklet of postcards. It has, however, established its young creator as a talent on the rise in Europe. Jaschinski, a German-born photographer based in London, lets her stark black-and-white compositions stand without commentary; viewers are left to form their own opinions. Among these dark and unsettling images of animals behind bars is a haunting--and nearly heart-breaking--picture of a decidedly unhappy gibbon, imploring the camera to free him from captivity. Words could only diminish its impact.About the Author:
Britta Jaschinski (b.1965) was born in Bremen and has lived and worked in England since 1990. Her body of work on animals won her instant recognition which resulted in exhibitions throughout the world, including a solo show at London's Photographers' Gallery in 1995.
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Book Description Phaidon Press, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110714834726
Book Description Phaidon Press, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0714834726