The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay
July 2016 back issue
Of One and The Other
by Jayanti Seiler
A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous! Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
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The collection of photographs are part of a photographic essay that began in 2013 titled, Of One and The Other, which seeks to inspire consideration of the complexity and depth found in the relationships between animals and humans from all points along a spectrum that spans the chasm from lifesaving to exploitation. The images are a critique of the paradoxical framework and disparate representations of our relationships with non-humans; wherein there is the desire to coexist harmoniously, yet control, consume and rule. These have yet to be reconciled, although in the last decade or more there is a growing sensibility and consciousness in Western culture towards animals as equal sentient beings. This work situates within this larger context and seeks to add dimension and fuel to this essential regard for animals, which is gaining momentum. The photographs as seen together, are a call to revere the natural world while living in a modern one in which the two realms often conflict. The wellbeing of animals has been a lifelong passion of mine, which initially compelled me to apply my craft to explore the myriad of disparate ideations versus the actual treatment of animals I observed across innumerable venues in which humans and animals interact. As participant, observer and storyteller, I spent time among people from a very broad scope of human-animal engagements ranging from falconers that capture and release birds of prey, 4-H youth that auction their livestock for profit and slaughter, owners of exotic big cats, animal sanctuaries that care for abused domestic animals, traveling safaris, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers, taxidermists, and encounters for profit. I immerse myself in the commonalities and conflicts of interest between neighboring groups to call attention to the ill-defined slippery notion of borders and boundaries and how they are either honored or crossed.  The humans and the animals that I depict co-exist and connect across and within these margins. The capturers become the captured as they are bound by their commitments to preserve and protect. Conflict is found in efforts to remain at a distance, pictured as not only humane but also essential to survival and conservation in the world of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. Others blatantly bridge that gap and sell encounters with big cats under the same guise though with little or no care for the welfare of the animals. Whereas, altruistic individuals at animal shelters both wild and domestic dedicate their lives to preserving the health of debilitated, abused and neglected animals. There is a collision of vulnerability, pride and accomplishment found in the unique relationships youth in the 4-H Program have with their animals. I seek to capture the emotional complexity and dedication as their attention turns inward on Livestock Auction Night at County Fairs and the reality of sending their animals raised from birth to slaughter weighs heavily on them. These disparities are woven into the fabric of the photographs, calling attention to undefined slippery boundaries of displaced intentions and notions of adoration, escape, capture, release, and conservation. The relationships I depict are meant to be complex and not clearly definable to call upon a greater concern. Of One and The Other, is an acknowledgment of the myriad contradictions, and the unresolved and intricate borderlands shared by contemporary life and the undomesticated world of nature. I portray, that irrespective of our own biases, within every interaction and encounter, there deserves to be further understanding of our obligations and impact.
David with “Brian Staple’s Traveling Safari” is pictured between performances embracing his lion cub in a wooded area in Savannah Georgia. The image represents the revere for the wild and return to nature. Dependent on the young man, cradled by the limbs of the tree both are vulnerable to falling. I found romantic idealism and displaced intentions used to rationalize man’s domination over animals, which stem from notions of adoration, escape, accessibility, capture, release, and conservation. Crossing boundaries when hugging a big cat, is feeding the consumerism of exotic animals, keeping them from the natural world. 2014.
A teenage girl in the 4-H Program spends time with her Ewes at the Volusia County Fair Livestock Auction before they are taken to the slaughterhouse that night. The 4H Club is focused on family tradition, instilling responsibility and preparing youth for the realities of adulthood. The images center on the conflict of emotions these young people face, as they must find the courage to send their animals away. I seek to capture the emotional complexity and dedication as their attention turns inward and the reality of parting with the animals they raised from birth weighs heavily on them. 2014.
Florence Thout, founder of Journey’s End, converted her home in 1974 into a sanctuary dedicated to life-long care and shelter for dogs, cats, horses, pigs, sheep, and birds that have been abused, neglected or have special needs and medical conditions.  Prior Florence worked as an animal cruelty investigator for the Volusia County Sheriff's Department and began her compassionate endeavors by bringing home some of the most needy animals. She is depicted saint-like surrounded by her rescued cats in her well-maintained enclosure that houses over 130 cats. 2014.
Lindsay, a Falconer, poses with her Red-tailed Hawk named Tyr in the living room of her apartment in Debary Florida. Falconry is a complicated dance between man and bird. Falconers train juvenile birds to hunt side-by-side them in the outdoors and after a year or two they are returned to the wild, under the guise that they have become stronger hunters and survived longer while in captivity. Pictures of wolves hang on the wall behind her and a taxidermy snake frozen in a defensive pose in a glass box signify additional layers of animal representation in the image. 2015.
A proprietor of a traveling show titled, "A Grizzly Experience", is depicted between performances holding the hand of his son through the fence where he sits with his trained Alaskan Grizzly bears at the Volusia County Fair in Deland Florida. The image addresses the dichotomous human-animal bond and the ill-defined slippery notion of borders and boundaries referring to how they are either honored or crossed. 2015.
A taxidermist holding a stuffed deer head at “Quality Taxidermy” in Deland Florida. There is a duality of violence and manufactured tenderness found in this image of a young man perhaps admiring his craft or showing remorse. The portrait is a symbol of the boundaries and belief systems that clash and overlap in society, one of these being that hunters have a closer relationship with nature then someone who turns a blind eye and buys their meat in a sanitized package in the supermarket because it is easier then killing and butchering it themselves. 2014
Volunteer caretaker, Shana, at Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary in Deland Florida, is depicted tenderly bathing a rescued dog that is paralyzed due to a blood born parasite. She was taken in as a puppy and cared for until recently passing away at about 12 years of age. 2014.
Jody with “Animal Adventures”, a sanctuary based in Okeechobee Florida, is depicted selling encounters to “play and pet” a tiger cub named Dahlia for $25.00 at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Amusement Area in Florida. The event was located between a “Slingshot” ride and roller coaster, where Dahlia was made to pose for pictures with paying customers 12 hours a day for a week under stressful conditions. The appeal and accessibility of cub encounters are rarely scrutinized. 2013.  
Jody with Animal Adventures in Okeechobee Florida is depicted embracing his tiger cub named Dahlia at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Amusement area in Florida, where he was selling encounters to “play and pet” her for $25.00. The image represents the fine line between adoration and exploitation.  It is illegal to sell encounters with big cats after they are 40lbs. under Florida law. The 5-month-old cub in poor health was above the weight limit for these standards, which among extremely stressful and unnatural conditions, poses a danger for her as well as the public. 2013.
A young boy in the 4-H Program poses with the steer he raised with meticulous care from birth at the Volusia County Fair Livestock Auction.  Children mature quickly because they form very close bonds with their animals despite knowing that they will send them to slaughter on Auction Night. 2015.
A caretaker stands before his favorite cougar at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa Florida, one of the largest accredited sanctuaries in the country dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats. 2014
A taxidermist named Kyle holds the torso of an alligator that he is in the process of converting into a taxidermy object at “Quality Taxidermy” in Deland Florida. The care the taxidermist takes when meticulously crafting keepsakes from hunted animals is a form of preserving the living. 2014.
Two Alaskan Grizzly bears from the traveling show, "A Grizzly Experience", wrestle before spectators at the Volusia County Fair in Deland Florida. 2015.
A young girl in the 4-H Program prepares to show her white lamb at the Volusia County Fair Livestock Auction in hopes of winning a ribbon and cash prize. The children in 4-H believe deeply in what they do and I aim to capture that mixture of pride and emotion. 2014 
Bonnie embraces her beloved Florida Panther at her home in Belleview Florida where she houses her two 18 year old big cats, now retired from educational shows with the “Panther Outreach Program”. She has formed a very close bond with her cats originally rescued as cubs from a sanctuary that could not care for them properly. In this portrait she expresses her compassion and dread for the loss of her companions, as she feels they are nearing the end of their lives. 2015.
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