Charlotte Dumas

Vlaardingen NL 1977, lives/works Amsterdam and New York

Emi, Miyakojima
Pigment ink jet print
112 X 140 cm
gift of the artist

In Japan Charlotte Dumas has photographed Hokkaido, Yonaguni, Miyako and Misaki horses that roam freely in their natural environment. They derive their right to exist from their use as working animals, but only the Hokkaido horses are still used as such. The other breeds photographed by her are being employed as work horses with less and less frequency. Because of that, the economic need to maintain the breeds has largely vanished, and their numbers are declining to critical levels. Dumas has photographed them because she is greatly concerned with the issue of their value and right to exist. Through a visual symbiosis of the horses and their environments, she shows that the breeds are connected to the history and culture of Japan. The short, shaggy coats of the Yonaguni horses flutter in the wind, in a pattern similar to the sea that surrounds the island. Despite the fact that these horses might become monuments of themselves now that the traditional link between man and animals is in danger of being severed, there is also the promise of a future. Dumas has created an image of new life as well. Her photograph of a Miyako foal in the seclusion of a forest is, in its portrayal of both vulnerability and resilience, not only a visual plea for the survival of the breed, but also an ode to life.