There is no blood, guts, or gore. There is no trick lighting, Photoshop manipulation, or staging. In Captive, there are only stories told through honest photography – and the impact of those images is visceral and haunting.
In her latest book, photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur explores the interactions of people and non-human animals in aquariums and zoos. Jo-Anne has documented these interactions in over 20 countries over the course of ten years. Known for her work with through the We Animals project, as well as the human subject in the documentary The Ghosts In Our Machine, Jo-Anne turns her extraordinary storytelling capabilities to the lives of captive animals in these institutions, and the strange relationships humans have with them.
“Increasingly, zoos and aquaria are being called upon to undertake both ideological and physical changes to their institutions. At the centre of the current debates regarding the ethics of captivity are the animals and our moral obligations towards these ‘others,’” Jo-Anne said in a release about Captive. “Captive looks at the animals we so often fail to truly see, and is my contribution to the ever-growing conversation about keeping these individuals on display.”
Her carefully chosen words about ethics, captivity, and her experience, along with commentary from Born Free Foundation’s co-founder, Virginia McKenna, and philosopher Lori Gruen, accompany the images that are, frankly, difficult to describe, given the power they hold.
Moments that illustrate the stark difference between a captive polar bear swimming in an artificial habitat, and a man in shorts checking his self phone; a chimpanzee having a tender moment with their offspring, while teenagers look on in the background; a tiger looking out from steel bars drilled into concrete, and families standing behind barricades watching. Each photo leaves a distinct emotion, and calls into question what so many consider the norm for captive wildlife.
As much as we’d like to use a thesaurus and find just the right way to describe the feelings, thoughts, and impressions that come from reading and exploring the stories within Captive, it would never do the book justice.
This masterful work is a must have for anyone wanting to challenge their, or other’s, views and thinking, and learn what life is for non-human animals in captivity. It is available for pre-order at Amazon (Canada | United States).