Images of animals at play are as common as scenes of human leisure. What’s rarer is to see humans enjoying the company of species that are typically seen as livestock to be reared, sold, and consumed, rather than as animals that provide companionship (albeit often unwillingly) like dogs, cats, and horses.
A new book published by Loose Joints is bringing together Yana Wernicke’s images that trace the unlikely bonds between humans and what are usually considered farm animals. The photographer, who is based in a small town near Frankfurt, has focused the book on two people, Rosina and Julia, who each rescue animals from slaughter in different parts of Germany.
The black and white photographs show the unusually close bond both Rosina and Julia have with these animals, which also include piglets and geese. The physical characteristics of an animal, such as its build or any ‘abnormalities’, determine whether it stands out at market. In Companions, Wernicke pays close attention to the nuances of each animal – the shape of their ear, the markings of their fur – but with a certain tenderness.
“I was feeling pessimistic about the treatment of animals and wanted to imagine this kind of magical utopia,” she told Creative Review in 2021 towards the beginning of the project, “a world where animals and humans can co-exist as companions.”
Companions by Yana Wernicke is published by Loose Joints; loosejoints.biz