“A to Zebu”
From an ongoing series dealing with the human/animal conjunction. Human appreciation of the beauty of the animal form is evident as far back as one can search the history of representative art. Significantly, the first letter in our alphabet is in fact based on a drawn symbol representing an animal, (this symbol can be traced back to the Egyptian hieroglyph for Ox). There has always been an inherent dichotomy in this fascination/reverence though, due to the fact that we kill and eat these beings. This contradiction continues today.
Growing up on a farm in northern B.C. with 200 head of cattle, chickens and pigs etc, inculcated in me a strong fascination with the human/animal relationship. The convergence of these personal and historical relationships results in this particular body of work. Trips to India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Viet Nam over the last 15 yrs has reminded me that people still have close interaction with their domesticated animals. This series began in these countries years ago with the collection of images of these “exotic” breeds. Gazing out of a speeding bus window in South Vietnam one damp groggy dawn, I had a brief glimpse as we flashed past, of a huge water buffalo standing on the bank at a steep slope, drinking from a pond.
An old man stood on it’s back, facing backwards, with his hands clasped behind him and leaning forward at the same precipitous angle to keep from falling. It reminded me of lying on the back of our old milk cow as a very young boy, as she contentedly chewed her cud. I had began working an images of people on the backs of their animals 2 or 3 years prior and due to this fortuitous event I began to assemble this series of photo base images. This brief flash of an almost dream-like image really inspired me to pursue the series in more depth.
Ken Jeannotte 2008