Thursday, 23 February 2012

Artist Research: Jo-Anne McArthur

bio photo
Jo-Anne McArthur is a documentary photographer, animal activist and an environmentalist. She has been working as a documentary photographersince 2000. Her love of travel, curiosity about people, animals and different cultures has lead her to over 40 countries on all 7 continents. Though she shoots portrait, editorial, food and event photography in her hometown of Toronto, Canada, she also spends 5-6 months of each year working abroad on documentary stories such as "We Animals".

We Animals is an ambitious project which documents, through photography, animals in the human environment. The project began in 1998 when McArthur was becoming more aware of the abuses animals suffer at the hands of humans. The title is intetionally broad in subject matter, interpretation and implication. The premise of the project is that humans are as much animal as the beings we use for food, clothing, research, experimentation, work, entertainment, slavery and companionship. The goal of the projectis to break down the barriers that humans have built which allow us to treat non-human animals as objects and not as beings.

Though she began shooting subject matter that close to home - companion animals, zoos, meat markets etc, the project has grown significantly in scope, to the point that much of it is now being photographed globally. The "human environment", after all, has grown to reach all corners of the globe. We humans claim these spaces as our own as well as the creatures that inhabit them. McArthur's objective has been to photograph our interactions with animals in such a way that the viewer finds new significance in these ordinary, often unnoticed situations of use, abuse and sharing of spaces.

Since the conceptions of the project, stories and photographs for We Animals have been shot in over 40 countries and the photos have contribuated to dozens of worldwide campaigns to end the suffering of animals.

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