Visiting zoos has been an enjoyable experience since childhood. I have come to associate it with family time, birthday parties, french fries, ice cream and overly expensive plush toys in gift shops. The animals are there to be observed, to provide enterntainment within the safety of a controlled environment. Most of them live within groups, have probably exclusively known life in captivity, and are surely looked after on a daily basis.

Still, there is something vicious about looking into the eyes of some of these creatures. Always confined in the same space of their cage, systematically gawked at by an endless flow of people, there always seems to be an underlying sentiment of ethical conflict. What are these animals feeling? What does it think when it meets my eye? Does it think or feel anthing at all anymore; does it care? What are the implications of observing and exposing these animals through my lens? Is my act of photography a second “capturing”?

Without directly aiming to indict, or to apply strict categorisaton of either good or bad, this project is an exploration of personal feelings of ambivalence. Ultimately, it was at all times the intent to portraiture these animals as the sentient beings I consider most to be.

Locations:
  • Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town, South Africa (2014).
  • Artis, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2013).
  • Blijdorp, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2013).
  • Dvůr Králové Zoo, Dvůr Králové nad Labem, Czech Republic (2010).

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