HUMAN-CANINE BOND

STATEMENT OF INTENT

The day Lexi came into my life, He changed my whole world around. Having Lexi at home made me want to develop my understanding of dogs and animals in general, therefore I followed courses in animal psychology and pet adoption. Having developed my attachment to the animal world, it organically became the major subject of my photography. Being close to nature and animals was and continues to be a vital part of my life.

This project was born out of a wish to connect with other dog owners, to encourage them to think about their own relationship with their dogs and to help strengthen the bond between them throughout the entire participation process, actively involving the participants in several ways to obtain the material.

The material obtained via disposal cameras, pet camera, interviews, sound recorder, travelling smartphone and a digital camera offers insight into the lives of nine dogs, revealing their relationship with their human owners during this modern era. The created work sheds light (and some fur) begs the question: What it means to have a dog in the 21st century’s urban environment.

The project is inspired by Victorian era studio portrait images in which dogs appear alongside their owners. I have also found inspiration for my work from such more contemporary photographers like Ollie Grove and Will Robson-Scott and their project ‘In Dogs We Trust’ in which the artists were seeking to present modern-day dog ownership and relationship with humans.

Much as the unpredictable nature of animals, so is the approach of the photography outcome. The work relies on the method of chance, leaving it in the hands of the participants to some extent in order to determine the outcome of the work. I  involve them as much as possible in the collaborative process e.g providing them with disposal cameras and the travelling smartphone, which also serves as a tool that unites them. The work is also inspired by the 20th century Dadaists and their collages, which were also largely created relying on the principles of chance. My work joins the viewpoint of the three involved parties (me, dogs and their owners) and allows a viewer to be carried away to an arbitrary space where simplicity intertwines with complexity in the daily lives of dogs.

The relationship between humans and their pets is never perfect, much like the strategy of presenting the work itself. The raw material obtained from the participants is showcased as it is to give a viewer a more realistic feeling, taking a step back from a perfection and getting closer to reality.

Every dog owner knows how much their dogs love going to a park, run around, interact with other dogs, find wooden sticks laying in grass, pee on trees and eventually play throw and catch with sticks. Dogs don’t need fancy toys, they are very happy with fallen tree branches. Therefore, the work is represented in a dog’s natural environment on a material that dogs love the most.

This interactive pop-up installation has been set up for the people visiting my local park Venserpark. Every dog has its day, and on 8 August 2021 nine dogs who live in the surroundings of this park and nearby in Amsterdam are put in the spotlight for people to discover their stories.

I feel grateful to the participants for the opportunity to enter their houses during such a difficult Covid era, feeling  welcome in their private spaces and spending  time, talking about pets that are so special  to them. Throughout the project I have often heard from people that their dogs mean the world to them, and through the work I have been undertaking and how the past five years have been with Lexi, I totally understand what they mean.