One photographer’s mission to change the way we look at animals
Most people don't see animals the way Jo-Anne McArthur does. Be they lab rats, meat for the slaughter or wild animals trained to perform tricks for an audience, they are, in her eyes, victims of our "common disregard for non-human animals."
An award-winning photojournalist and activist, McArthur has dedicated her career to making others see things the way she does, documenting abuse and aggravating for change. Her work, she has said, does aim to shock and disturb her audience, but it also strives to do something deeper: "to break down the mental and physical barriers we’ve built that allow us to treat our fellow creatures as objects and not as sentient beings."
"We Animals," McArthur's first book, compiles 100 of her most striking photographs, along with the stories behind them. She shared some of her reflections, along with a collection of her work (below) with Salon. This interview has been lightly edited for space and clarity.
The book is a culmination of over a decade of work photographing animals, across many countries and industries. When you originally set out to do this work, did you have a specific goal you were trying to achieve?