Captive is my contribution to the growing conversation about the ethics of captivity. I’ve been photographing animals in the human environment for about fifteen years, from those we eat and wear to those we keep in labs for research, and use for entertainment. The animals I photograph at zoos and aquaria fall into that last category. In 2016, The Born Free Foundation contracted me to photograph zoos across Europe. After spending two months on the road for that assignment, along with the zoos I had visited across Canada in 2008 for Zoocheck Canada, as well as the archive I had amassed while photographing at zoos and aquaria around the world, I felt I had a collection of images worth publishing.
Captive asks the viewer to have a second look, not only at the animals we keep captive, but at the details of the exhibits; the infrastructures we’ve created, which are human constructs for human pleasures. At the centre of these exhibits are animals, and yet we fail to see them as individuals. We might see them as objects for our amusement or representatives of a species, but it makes us uncomfortable to see much more than that. When we do really look, we see animals who are despondent, depressed, exhibiting stereotypic behaviours which indicate stress or unhappiness. Captiveasks us to see and consider their zoo life.