Talk about a powerful and heartbreaking form of activism. Taiwanese photographer, Tou Yun-Fei spent two years documenting last moments of stray dogs before they were scheduled to be put to death in shelters. 70% of dogs in shelters in Taiwan are killed within 12 days of arriving at the shelter.
In a formal portraiture style common in the 1800s, Tou Yun-Fei’s aim is to document a small number of the 80,000 stray dogs euthanized in Taiwan each year. The result is beautiful and heartbreaking photographs of dogs in their last living moments. The photographs are scheduled to go up in a gallery show in Taiwan next month.
For Tou Yun-Fei, photography is the following:
Photographic images allow us to contemplate. Through contemplation we gain an understanding of the uniqueness and nobility of life. Through contemplation we understand how chaotic and disordered the world has become.
The photographic image is merely a vehicle of communication that can lead to a better understanding of a situation, an event, of ourselves and of the world around us.
This project shows the power of photography, the importance of looking—of witnessing—as a catalyst for change. For those who view these photographs, Tou Yun-Fei says, some rethink the responsibility they have to animals as companions. These photos show each dog as an important individual being. We are asked to look honestly into their eyes with the knowledge that this individual is dead, that they died unceremoniously, and that we have a responsibility to change a system that devalues animals so much that this an acceptable problem-solving tactic.
What do you all think of this project? How have you seen photography used as effective activism?