Long before I was a cat lady, I was a dog person. And I still am. I grew up with dogs, I empathize with dogs: I love dogs so strongly and deeply that some people can’t understand it. But I do. I’d do anything to save one, to rescue one from an abusive owner or to make sure that it was safe and well-fed. In fact, I can’t even read or watch even the most casual story about animal cruelty because it upsets me so, so much.
And that’s where Martin Usborne’s “MUTE: The Silence of Dogs in Cars” comes in. Far from portraying abusive situations, he wished to observe the emotions that dogs feel upon being left in the car. An hour or a minute, the dog has no idea when its beloved owner is returning, and this brings out a lot of potential angst, insecurity, sadness and anger. I was really moved by the results (especially knowing that these were fictional situations). Here he explains the thoughts behind his project.
I was once left in a car at a young age.
I don’t know when or where or for how long, probably for fifteen minutes only. The details don’t matter. The point is that I wondered if anyone would come back. It seems trivial now, but in a child’s mind it is possible to be alone forever.
Around the same age I began to feel a deep affinity with animals — in particular their plight at the hands of humans. I remember watching TV and seeing footage of a dog being put in a plastic bag and being kicked. What appalled me most was that the dog could not speak back. Its muteness terrified me.
The images in this series explore that feeling, both in relation to myself and to animals in general. The camera is the perfect tool for capturing a sense of silence and longing: the shutter freezes the subject for ever. The dog is truly trapped.
When I started this project I knew the photos would be dark. What I didn’t expect was to see so many subtle reactions by the dogs: some sad, some expectant, some angry, some dejected. It was as if upon opening up a box of grey-coloured pencils I was surprised to see so many shades inside.
[Sent to me by my lovely friend Diana.]