||How do you apologize?
photos and text by
The photographs are of animals found
dead; the majority is of road-killed animals that I encountered on a two-mile
stretch of road near where I used to live.
The catalyst for this work came from a couple of things. One is my ongoing
interest in how animals are thought about, how animals are looked at,
and how we co-exist with animals. Another is reading a Barry Lopez essay
called Apologia. In this essay Lopez explored the moral and emotional
upheaval he experienced during a cross-country road trip where he frequently
stopped and removed road-killed animals from the roadways.
The thing that struck a chord within me in his essay was his telling of
a man asking him "Why do you bother?” And his response was
"You never know. The ones you give some semblance of burial, to which
you offer an apology, may have been like seers in a parallel culture.
It is an act of respect, a technique of awareness.”
So these photographs represent my technique of awareness, a gesture of
respect toward the animals I encountered on the roads. Instead of averting
my eyes in sadness or indifference I found that I wanted to look closer.
I wanted to focus my attention toward the animals. I photographed them,
not so much as a document of their passing but more as an acknowledgement
of their existence, an acknowledgement that the lives and the remains
of animals are very much a part of our landscape, a part of our day to
My perception of animals as beautiful and worthy is central to my aesthetic
concerns in this particular body of work. What I was trying for in these
pictures is a combination of beauty, sadness and a sense of reverence.
To paraphrase Aldo Leopold… There are some who can live without
wild things and there are some who cannot. These photographs represent
the dilemmas of one who cannot.