Review by Gerhard Clausing •
There can be no doubt that our relationship with other creatures, the “animals,” is in need of improvement, and when optimal, gives great joy and a calm feeling to all participants. Even though many have seen such creature parallels before, such as Winogrand in The Animals, similarities and shared emotions have never been more ably captured than in the scenes presented in this photobook by Sage Sohier. Our world of insights in this area has expanded and been intensified.
As the naturalist author Sy Montgomery so movingly outlines in her essay included in this book, the bliss that can be achieved when we are on the same wavelength as other creatures is unequalled. Love and trust are mutual feelings, and it is especially heartening to see how freely and forgivingly animals who have been mistreated return such positive vibes when they are in the care of humans who respect and support them. The subtitle of this book is, “The Special Bond Between Animals and Their Humans.”
The environmental portraits of these animals and their humans are a real pleasure to behold. Who has ever seen a bunch of cows worrying about their human stretched out on their meadow? And what is more emotional than a fellow who himself has a prosthetic leg nuzzling a donkey for whom he has made life tolerable by providing him with a similar aid for walking about? Or how about us humans as pork eaters seeing pigs roaming about in a setting that is the natural habitat that all of their equals might dream about and would deserve? And what can be more reassuring than primates performing their mutual grooming rituals?
There are many more examples, well presented and printed in this large-format volume, bound in such a way as to allow easy ‘lay-flat’ viewing. As Montgomery notes and Sohier has documented multiple times, these creature partners mostly close their eyes when they share their moment of bliss in an atmosphere of mutual trust. And we observe this with domestic animals as well as with those who are wild and previously were kept in improper captivity situations. To release these animals back into nature is not always possible in many circumstances, but the newly acquired settings in the sanctuaries and other locations shown are a nurturing environment, as this documentary project demonstrates.
The photographer’s sense of humor, evident throughout, provides a light touch for a serious subject. The appendix also contains interesting notes that tell the stories behind some of the images. The captions also mention foundations and institutions dedicated to helping abandoned and abused animals. May this project contribute to the improvement of the treatment of animals and humans as well.
Gerhard Clausing, PhotoBook Journal Associate Editor, is an author and photographer from Southern California.
Sage Sohier – Peaceable Kingdom
Photographer: Sage Sohier (Born in Washington, DC; lives in Massachusetts, USA)
Publisher: Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany; © 2021
Essays: Sy Montgomery, Sage Sohier
Hardcover, illustrated, debossed, half cloth; 112 paginated pages with 79 color images; notes on select photographs; 12 x 9 inches (30.5 x 23 cm); printed and bound in Germany; ISBN 978-3-96900-028-1
Design: Loreen Lampe, Kehrer Design
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