(Updated July 2, 2020) A new photography book from We Animals Media, entitled “Hidden: Animals in the Anthropocene” (stylized as HIDDEN), examines the relationship humans have with non-human animals around the globe. The collectible limited edition book exposes the undeniable emergency facing animals around the world. The collection of photographs provides valuable insight into the link between animal suffering and human health.
Through the lenses of 30 award-winning photojournalists, the book documents the horrific ways in which humans treat non-human animals. Photojournalists include We Animals Media founder Jo-Anne McArthur and animal photographer Andrew Skowron. We Animals has released two other books. “We Animals,” released in 2013, investigates food, fashion, entertainment, and research and 2017’s “Captive,” about animal captivity.
Speaking Up on Behalf of Animals
In lieu of words, McArthur told LIVEKINDLY the book is image-heavy with little text. She explained that the images “speak for themselves.” And that the photojournalists’ work is “inherently influential.” Photographs are a powerful medium for enacting social change.
“‘Hidden’ is a compilation of incredibly moving and harrowing work by its contributing photographers and journalists who seek to speak up on behalf of animals,” she explained. “Our goal is to make visible not just the animal stories but to move the needle very specifically on the conversations about the hidden animals we use.”
The book won’t have a huge print run, at least at first. But its overall objective is to evoke dialogue about animal suffering. Another goal of the book is to highlight how 30 photographers and a handful of editors “traveled worldwide and at incredible physical, emotional, and psychological expense, to bring these stories back to anyone who will look.”
“I do want anyone looking at Hidden to be stunned. And informed. And moved to no longer contribute to these industries. Furthermore, I’d love for its audiences to speak up, and take part. And do everything that they can to help end these industries. [Because they] are harmful to the animals, to our health, and to the environment,” McArthur said.
The book is currently on sale. McArthur says the printing of the book will begin in Italy in September. She hopes customers will have “Hidden” in their hands by December. However, COVID-19 may set the release date back.
‘The Harm We Cause [Animals], We Cause to Ourselves’
Humans slaughter approximately 80 billion animals each year for their meat.
In addition to being used for human consumption—animals are bred and raised in deplorable living conditions so that their fur and skin can be used as clothing for humans. They are also used as research tools and as entertainment—for humans.
This, explained McArthur, is where the book’s name stems from. “The Anthropocene is the proposed name for the current geological epoch. In this era, human activity is the dominant influence on climate, the environment, and all life on earth,” she said.
The world is experiencing a rise in viruses, pandemics, and human health problems. And all due to the actions of humans, says McArthur.
“We catch [animals] from the wild and force them into labour and entertainment. Or we kill them for pseudo-medicines and aphrodisiacs. We cram them into factory farms, creating conditions that cause swine flu, bird flu, and others,” she explained.
“The harm we cause them, we cause to ourselves. It needs to end for the safety and happiness of all parties,” she added.
McArthur says the book is especially poignant now, given the current pandemic.
“The stories in Hidden are revelatory and they’re brutal. [T]hey are also proof of the emergency confronting all of us globally, from animals in wet markets to industrial farming,” she said. “Hidden provides a stark look at what it is we’re doing to animals and why it needs to change.”
The Link Between Animal Suffering and Human Health
In addition to showing just how destructive viruses can be, the ongoing pandemic has exposed the dangers that live animal markets and wild animal meat pose to the world at large.
Experts connected early cases of the coronavirus to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China. But they have yet to pinpoint the exact origin of the disease. The vast majority of experts do agree that it is highly likely that the disease is zoonotic, a disease that can jump from animals to humans.
Studies show 60 percent of all human diseases and 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. The majority of these diseases arise from western livestock, including chickens, cattle, and pigs.
McArthur explained that the world at large is void of these animals’ perspectives. And non-human animals’ vantage points go largely unseen. That, McArthur told LIVEKINDLY, is where “Hidden” comes in. The book gives a voice to those that would otherwise not be heard.
“[T]hey’re kept under lock and key in windowless facilities like industrial farms, puppy mills, and research laboratories. So, we usually have no perspective. What we do think we know is based on what these industries want us to know,” she explained.
The Invisible Animals
Through its compilation of graphic and harrowing images, “Hidden” reveals the conflict humans have with non-human animals around the globe.
Vegan activist Joaquin Phoenix wrote the book’s foreword. In a release, he said: “The photojournalists represented in Hidden have entered some of the darkest… places in the world. The images they have captured are a searing reminder of our unpardonable behavior towards animals. [They] will serve as beacons of change for years to come.”
And while all of the images each tell their own tales, McArthur says they all share commonalities. “I can describe many of them as poignant, subtle, revelatory, beautifully rendered, and brutal,” McArthur said.
She added: “The effect these images have on me is that, when I see them, I want to work harder, change everything, share them with everyone, and spread a whole lot of love and education around the world, which will empower us to change what we have done and continue to do to the complex and fascinating animals with whom we share this earth.”