There's nothing quite like a relationship with an aged pet--a dog or cat who has been at our side for years, forming an ineffable bond. Pampered pets, however, are a rarity among animals who have been domesticated. Farm animals, for example, are usually slaughtered before their first birthday. We never stop to think about it, but the typical images we see of cows, chickens, pigs, and the like are of young animals. What would we see if they were allowed to grow old?
Isa Leshko shows us, brilliantly, with this collection of portraits. To create these portraits, she spent hours with her subjects, gaining their trust and putting them at ease. The resulting images reveal the unique personality of each animal. It's impossible to look away from the animals in these images as they unforgettably meet our gaze, simultaneously calm and challenging. In these photographs we see the cumulative effects of the hardships of industrialized farm life, but also the healing that time can bring, and the dignity that can emerge when farm animals are allowed to age on their own terms.
Each portrait is accompanied by a brief biographical note about its subject, and the book is rounded out with essays that explore the history of animal photography, the place of beauty in activist art, and much more. Open this book to any page. Meet Teresa, a thirteen-year-old Yorkshire Pig, or Melvin, an eleven-year-old Angora Goat, or Tom, a seven-year-old Broad Breasted White Turkey.
You'll never forget them.
Praise for Allowed to Grow Old:
"In Allowed to Grow Old, Leshko's remarkable, unsentimental photos of older chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows and other animals achieve something that I have not seen before in photos of domesticated animals. We get to know them, not as things to eat or produce milk or eggs for us, but as individuals with personalities and lives of their own to lead."--Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation
"There is great poise and dignity in the animals Isa Leshko captures with her lens: their characters shine brightly despite their often devastating histories. She looks at them, and her gaze reveals them as individuals. One hopes our society looks, too, and does better for them all. What Leshko gives us with these photographs is a reminder of the very real fates of these and all farm animals. I would love to know every one of them."
--Alexandra Horowitz, author of Inside of a Dog
Isa Leshko is a photographer who focuses on themes of aging and animal rights. Her images of aging farm animals are much admired and have been published in the Atlantic, Boston Globe, the Guardian, Harper's, the New York Times, and elsewhere.