I distinctly remember seeing Florida artist Jayanti Seiler’s series, Of One and The Other, and thinking it was one of the most striking, poignant, beautiful photographic projects I’d seen in a long time. The images of people in a variety of settings interacting with and often embracing animals, living and dead, nearly brought me to tears; they are such moving photos of moments that feel authentic and heartfelt, fraught with the complex emotions of the relationships humans share with animals today. In making these pictures, the artist “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.” In her statement for the body of work, Seiler writes that the series “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.”
From Seiler’s statement: “[These] 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 I seek to advocate for this essential regard for animals. 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 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.”
All images © Jayanti Seiler