Photographer Jayanti Seiler is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From her project ‘Of One And The Other‘. To see Jayanti’s portfolio click on any image.
“Camel whisperers” at the “Brian Staple’s Traveling Safari” are pictured between performances in Savannah Georgia. 2014.
A proprietor of a traveling show titled, “A Grizzly Experience”, is depicted between performances holding the hand of his son through the fence where he sits with his trained Alaskan Grizzly bears at the Volusia County Fair in Deland Florida. The image addresses the dichotomous human-animal bond and the ill-defined slippery notion of borders and boundaries referring to how they are either honored or crossed. 2015.
Horse caretaker with “Brian Staple’s Traveling Safari” is pictured between performances with his Clydesdale in Savannah Georgia. 2014.
The collection of photographs are part of a photographic essay that began in 2013 titled, “Of One and The Other”, which seeks to inspire consideration of the complexity and depth found in the relationships between animals and humans from all points along a spectrum that spans the chasm from lifesaving to exploitation. The series developed out of Jayanti Seiler’s long-term dedication to wildlife rehabilitation and rescue. Jayanti seeks to raise awareness regarding the complexity of human-animal relationships to impart a greater consideration and respect for our fellow inhabitants of this planet who are unable to speak for themselves. Her commitment and contributions to animal activism extends far beyond her photographic work to include alignments with animal rights groups to help investigate backyard sanctuaries and zoos that profit from cub encounters. The well being of animals has been a lifelong passion of Jayanti’s, which initially compelled her to apply her craft to explore the myriad of disparate ideations versus the actual treatment of animals that she observed across innumerable venues in which humans and animals interact. The images are a critique of the paradoxical framework and disparate representations of our relationships with animals; wherein there is the desire to coexist harmoniously, yet control, consume and rule. These have yet to be reconciled, although in the last decade or more there is a growing sensibility and consciousness in Western culture towards animals as equal sentient beings. This work situates within this larger context and seeks to advocate for this essential regard for animals. The photographs as seen together, are a call to revere the natural world while living in a modern one in which the two realms often conflict.
David with “Brian Staple’s Traveling Safari” is pictured between performances embracing his lion cub in a wooded area in Savannah Georgia. The image represents the revere for the wild and return to nature. Dependent on the young man, cradled by the limbs of the tree, both are vulnerable of falling. I found romantic idealism and displaced intentions are used to rationalize man’s domination over animals, which stem from notions of adoration, escape, accessibility, capture, release, and conservation. Crossing boundaries when hugging a big cat, is feeding the consumerism of exotic animals, keeping them from the natural world. 2014.
Brian and his wife founded the “Tiger Encounter and Rehabilitation Sanctuary (TEARS)” in Mims Florida where they have housed rescued tigers for years at their home in Mims Florida. Raising tigers comes at a great expense and these caretakers are diligent in their efforts to provide the proper enrichment for their big cats, which are considered beloved family members. 2014.
Jody with “Animal Adventures”, a sanctuary based in Okeechobee Florida, is depicted embracing his tiger cub named Dahlia at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Amusement area in Florida, where he was selling encounters to “play and pet” the cub for $25.00. The appeal and accessibility of cub encounters are rarely scrutinized. This particular cub encounter was located between a loud “Slingshot” ride and roller coaster, where Dahlia was made to pose for pictures with paying customers 12 hours a day for a week under these stressful conditions. It is illegal to sell encounters with big cats after they are 40lbs. under Florida law. The 5-month-old cub in poor health was above the weight limit for these standards, which poses a danger for her as well as the public. 2013.
Bonnie Rainbow embraces her beloved Florida Panther at her home in Belleview Florida where she houses two 18 year old big cats, now retired from educational shows with the “Panther Outreach Program”. She has formed a very close bond with her cats originally rescued as cubs from a sanctuary that could not care for them properly. In this portrait she expresses her compassion and dread for the loss of her companions, as she feels they are nearing the end of their lives. 2015.
As participant, observer and storyteller, she spent time among people from a very broad scope of human-animal engagements ranging from falconers that capture and release birds of prey, 4-H youth that auction their livestock for profit and slaughter, owners of exotic big cats, animal sanctuaries that care for abused domestic animals, traveling safaris, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers, taxidermists, and encounters for profit. She immersed myself in the commonalities and conflicts of interest between neighboring groups to call attention to the ill-defined slippery notion of borders and boundaries and how they are either honored or crossed. The humans and animals that “Of One and The Other” depicts co-exist and connect across and within these margins. The capturers become the captured as they are bound by their commitments to preserve and protect. Conflict is found in efforts to remain at a distance, pictured as not only humane but also essential to survival and conservation in the world of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. Others blatantly bridge that gap and sell encounters with big cats under the same guise though with little or no care for the welfare of the animals. Whereas, altruistic individuals at animal shelters both wild and domestic dedicate their lives to preserving the health of debilitated, abused and neglected animals. These disparities are woven into the fabric of the photographs, calling attention to undefined slippery boundaries of displaced intentions and notions of adoration, escape, capture, release, and conservation. The relationships depicted are meant to be complex and not clearly definable to call upon a greater concern. “Of One and The Other”, is an acknowledgment of the myriad contradictions, and the unresolved and intricate borderlands shared by contemporary life and the undomesticated world of nature. Irrespective of our own biases, within every interaction and encounter, there deserves to be further understanding of our obligations and impact.
This image of the Falconer, Eric, with his Red-tailed Hawk named Tyr was made in the living room of his apartment in Debary Florida. The photograph depicts the man’s everyday surroundings and the clash of domestic life with wild nature. Falconry is a complicated dance between man and bird. Falconers train juvenile birds of prey to hunt side-by-side them and after a year or two they are returned to the wild, under the provision that they have become stronger hunters. By photographing in the falconer’s home I create a dynamic that captures the relationship between the domestic sphere and the world of Falconry. The attributes of the home clash unmistakably with the bird of prey, as a living fixture among the items we surround ourselves with, for comfort and entertainment. 2015.
Lead veterinary technician Sam at the “Audubon Center for Birds of Prey” (http://fl.audubon.org/chapters-centers/audubon-center-birds-prey) in Maitland Florida holds one of her patients, an injured osprey. This urban environmental Audubon Center focuses on the rescue, medical treatment, rehabilitation and release of Florida’s raptors. The bird in the photograph wears a hood over his eyes to keep him calm while he is examined. There is a delicate harmony at stake in the encounters as it is traumatic for the birds to be taken out of their natural environments. Rehabbers are selfless in their attempts to shield animals from harm, yet they have to remain at a distance because this is essential to bird’s survival in the wild. The image depicts the blend of altruism and clinical detachment due to the volume of death that comes with the job. 2013.
Ed Straight has been a wildlife rescue rehabilitator since 1987 with his wife Gail. They converted their home into the Wildlife, Inc. Education & Rehabilitation Center (http://wildlifeinc.org), a volunteer run non-profit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization located in Bradenton Beach, Florida. They were treating over 3,000 birds, mammals, and reptiles by 1997. The number has since grown to over 4,000, and continues to increase, as they are now the largest wildlife rehabilitation and rescue center in Manatee County. The organization is solely funded by donations and private grants. 2014.