On The Sixth DayAlessandra Sanguinetti

(Nazraeli Press, 2005 )

“To portray an animal is to name it. Once named it acquires a new life, and then, is spared death. Each sacrifice gives us back a disturbing image of the border we cross when we end a life, and what it entails to have sole dominion over another living creature. It is possible that by exploring the fine line that separates us from what we rule, we may reach a better understanding of our own nature.” -Alessandra Sanguinetti

On the Sixth Day is a bloody, rich and vivid portrait of life and death on a remote Argentinean family-owned farm near Buenos Aires. Argentinean photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti documents the lives of subsistence farmers with an unflinching but intimate observation. The families that coexist with the animals are secondary characters in what is a primitive battle of bucolic survival: “subjects caught in a dance between life and death,” says Sanguinetti.

The viewpoint is predominantly with that of the domesticated animals; the camera empathetically positioned at their eye-level and the farmers looming menacingly at the edge of the frame. That’s not to say the work is in any way critical of the lifestyle depicted, or that the images sentimentalize the relationship between man and beast. On The Sixth Day is layered with allegorical themes and there is something mythical about the work—an acknowledgment of the tradition and rituals that have remained unchanged for centuries, and is considerably detached from our modern urbanized culture.

On The Sixth Day is a compelling work that lingers in the memory. It persuades us of the spirit and desire that connects us to the land, and the lingering persistent threat of death that is a part of all our existences. In these images the depiction of animals, carcasses and meat is often indistinguishable, primitive in its brutality—but the dependence between species, the reliance on this relationship, and the ultimate sacrifice made, are inescapable.

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