"What We Talk About When We Talk About Humankind"
The photographic essay We Are Dogs! by Jaka Babnik is an auto-reflective study, motivated by the desire to uncover and demystify one of the society's acceptable forms of fighting. The photos take away the masques from the phenomena of dogfights, mostly by compelling one to ask oneself what is human as well as what the origins and purposes of fighting are. The elliptical character of the story, where the man’s relationship with the dog rather than the man himself is in focus, reveals dogfights as a field in which human nature usurps violence and fighting in order to exercise its power(lessness). Exercising power(lessness) by humiliation and exploitation of animals is not only the final consequence of human destructiveness, it also forces us to rethink what we talk about when we talk about humankind. It seems that the fight for an omnipotent anthropocentric position is inherent to “humankind”. Even more, it unfolds itself indirectly, through those lacking access to rational, human-like manipulation.
The location of and the participants in the photographs are kept secret on purpose. As a matter of fact, the location seems irrelevant because the author is directing our attention to the state of humankind. Portraits of the dogs are actually portraits of people, and rather than speaking of violence as a product of human manipulation, they speak of people, who they are and who they long to be.
Video by Tomaž Šantl