“FOR RON” Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur of her journal pages
I want the book to be a meditation on the individuals I’ve met throughout the years. There have been hundreds of thousands, and many of them stay with me in my heart as I go forward doing this work. I want to honour them.
– Jo-Anne McArthur, excerpt from the film.
I asked Jo-Anne to provide a glimpse for us into her journal-book-making process. In fact, this process informs an important part of her story in the documentary. Some of my favourite scenes are of Jo writing, spreading her images across tabletops, and taping her pictures into her black book. As a director who loves process and character development, it is a clear window into Jo’s heart and work history.
– Liz Marshall, Director.
ART: A PRIMARY INGREDIENT FOR REVOLUTION
By Jo-Anne McArthur
Animal rights photographer / We Animals / Main human subject of The Ghosts In Our Machine
Photographers dream of making books of their work. I put this dream aside years ago when I realized my photo work, for animals, would be much more visible and therefore useful if I worked with campaigns. So my direction changed and it has been a fruitful path. A diversity of tactics for outreach is also important and I tabled the book idea again when my friend and incredible editor, Martin Rowe, offered to work with me on a book project for We Animals. Working with Martin is an opportunity I’d be crazy to pass up, so here I find myself in the first stages of a book mock-up.
We’ve talked about the ideas, themes, style and pace of the book – all very exciting stuff – but I had to reign myself in and start at the beginning. That is, making a selection of photographs that represent the project. Some of the images speak for themselves. Others come to life when words are added and bring understanding to the story behind the photograph. I’ll be taking a short sabbatical soon in order to put my full efforts into the creation of this book. In the mean time I’m putting musings and ideas down on paper, the old fashioned way is how I prefer to work – pen to paper. Martin sort of jokingly warned me (ok, he wasn’t joking) that a first draft is often completely rewritten but that the important thing is to write. Just write, get it on paper; only then will we have something to work with, deconstruct, and build upon.
This book must do justice to the animals I’ve met and photographed along this journey. It must share their stories in a way that will inspire people to react, care and change. Art is a powerful tool for social critique and a primary ingredient for revolution. My hope is that a We Animals book will be a small piece of the big movement towards the emancipation of animals.