Yana Wernicke

Creativity, 2024, Grantee Link >

German photographer Yana Wernicke received a grant for “On Finding Solace,” a moving-image work focusing on rescued animals at sanctuaries in Germany. The work explores the idea of solace between humans and animals. Yana’s aim is to film the close physical interactions between the animals and their caretakers to tell of their mutual comforting. She also plans to film various other sequences, such as of animals slowly falling asleep, when their sheltered existence allows them to experience the absence of fear. Yana writes:

As an artist, I am interested in positive representations of animals and interspecies companionship. I am fascinated by the idea that we are all—knowingly or unknowingly—longing for renewed contact with the more-than-human-world. I believe it is important that we humans recognize that we only truly become human through our contact with what is precisely not human. I believe that the restoration of this contact with the more-than-human world can lead to a recentering of what it means to be human and that this is a necessary prerequisite for us to be able to tackle the challenge of climate change. With my proposed project, I also want to shine a light on, and pay tribute to, those who go out of their way to care for animals.

While I do believe in the importance of animal activism that highlights the mistreatment of animals and their incredible suffering at the hands of the food industry, I sense a great lack of more positive representations of animals. Representations that, however, do not simply romanticize animals as something strange and other from us, but that allow us to see them as equal inhabitants of the Earth and as beings with the capacity to feel pain, both physical and mental.

Photo of Yana Wernicke: Jonas Feige.