‘Just wait in the car I’ll only be five minutes…’, a voice trails off and the car door slams. They’re words that most of us have heard at one time or another, be they from a harried parent or from a friend dashing into 7/11 to grab the lighter/toilet paper/chewing gum they so desperately need. For the person left in the car the strange slowing of time, the contemplation of what could possibly be taking so long, the questioning of just how five minutes can stretch are all tossed around. Imagine how a dog left in the same situation feels. It’s something that photographer Martin Usborne has spent some time meditating on.
Martin’s reminiscence of being left alone in a car as a child ‘wondering if anyone would come back’ triggered the idea ‘that in a child’s mind it is possible to be alone forever’. His affinity for animals and his interest in the power relationship between animals and humans led to his photographic series MUTE: the silence of dogs in cars.
The London-based photographer shot the series predominantly at night in bleak weather, adding a cinematic feel to the storytelling. The mood is set further by the chiefly dated and beat up vehicles which frame each of the subjects whose lament is so obviously visible to the viewer. What is surprising are the myriad reactions which Martin has coaxed out of the subjects. Martin writes ‘When I started this project I knew the photos would be dark. What I didn’t expect was to see so many subtle reactions by the dogs: some sad, some expectant, some angry, some dejected. It was as if upon opening up a box of grey-coloured pencils I was surprised to see so many shades inside.’
A heartfelt thank you to all the photographers, artists, illustrators, and writers who trusted us, dived in, and brought us delight, grace, excitement, courage, wilderness, and wonder over the last five years. Their work not only reflects the bonds we share with our animal companions, it also celebrates their spirit.
None of this would be possible without our four-legged counterparts who sprinkle magic dust time and time again, and our readers, who embraced this kooky idea, rallied around us, and made this world theirs too. With friends like these, who needs nine lives?
February 5, 2019