On the Sixth Day.
Photographs by Alessandra Sanguinetti. Essay by Robert Blake.
Nazraeli Press, Tucson, 2005. 80 pp., 61 four-color illustrations, 12x13".
On the sixth day, as recounted in the Bible, God created
the creatures of the earth, and man named them.
Brilliantly titled in reference to that day, this monograph
explores the complex relationship between man and
domesticated animals. Sanguinetti’s photographs are
absolutely gorgeous and compel the reader to witness
the entire life and death cycle of the farm animals of her
native Argentina. She reveals a challenging, rural way of
life where livestock are raised and consumed as part of a
larger, necessary way of living off the land. Most of the
photographs are shot from ground level, mimicking an
animal’s point of view. Throughout, we see the weatherworn
hands and threadbare clothing of the farmers at
the edges of the photographs, metaphorically and literally
surrounding the animals. Sanguinetti’s aesthetic and
color palette draw attention to the beautiful forms of the
animals, but she never lets us forget that these animals
are captive—living and dying in service to man. Even in
the images of the most adorable lambs she resists idealizing,
showing them tied together or heading toward a
larger herd, and ultimately toward death. In the most
gruesome images of skinned animals and bloodied
instruments, the photographs tend toward a religious
interpretation whereby sacrificial animals serve as a
vehicle for human redemption. Thus, without moralizing,
Sanguinetti skillfully portrays the lives and deaths of
domesticated animals as both a practical and ritual part
of human existence. DENISE WOLFF
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