The Silence of Dogs in Cars – Martin Usborne

I absolutely love this series of photos of dogs in cars. The artist Martin Usborne states that the series was shot in response to a childhood memory of being left in the car and feeling as if no one would ever come back for him, if perhaps he would be alone forever. While many of the images feel very much staged with perfect scenes and perfect lighting, it’s clear to me that the dogs weren’t given the agenda and have either settled in for the wait, or are anxiously fretting the return of their person. I really can’t say anything any better than this reviewer, on Yatzer.

Conveying Usborne’s preoccupation with the separation that exists both between humans and (other) animals and between ourselves, ‘The Silence of Dogs in Cars’ is a haunting portrait series of dogs as they sit and wait inside locked vehicles. Setting out to perform a cathartic experiment, the photographer re-enacted the fear that he couldn’t bear as a child. Over the course of more than forty images in the series, Usborne paired a variety of settings and cars to dogs, documenting their commanding reactions as they faced the same fate he did when he was young. Silence and solitude prevail as the canines’ expressions shift from sad to expectant, angry and dejected. Seemingly sheltered and protected, yet utterly vulnerable, they wait, trapped, appearing to be uncertain of what lies ahead.

However, in what appears to be a darker and arguably rather invigorating twist in the portrayal of a pictorial commonplace – the incessantly-photographed ‘man’s best friend’ – we also find a poignant series that hits close to home. Masquerading as animal photography, the series sees Usborne subtly shifting the focus away from his canine subjects, as he projects man’s worries, anxieties and deepest fears onto them. Honest and raw, the images convey an immediate emotional honesty that only animals can express. Behind their uneasy expressions and piercing stares, we recognize a realm of feelings that we usually suppress; the fear of the unknown, the fear of being alone and unheard. A fear universally felt but with no outlet to be expressed. In this vein, Usborne’s mesmerizing images are not so much about dogs but about those horrible feelings that inevitably arise in all of us from time to time.

Horrible feelings indeed. Some of these images brought such emotion to my heart I teared up immediately.

More photos and write up here on Yatzer.




The Silence of Dogs in Cars – Martin Usborne

  • February 18th, 2014
  • Posted in Art, Pics

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