Photography of animal exploitation

A photography project for Animal Liberation

The ideology reproduced through the historical oppression of animals has been defined as speciesism - discrimination based on the species - and under its cover different forms of violence –which have broad social support- have been legitimized. Activities such as livestock, fishing or hunting, among many others, are an inherent part of our society and have fostered the development of industries where animals suffer systematic and programmed exploitation.

Starting in the 1960s, after a series of historical precedents, the critical voices towards the use of animals as resources began to resonate with greater force and maturity than in previous periods. In 1963, the Hunting Saboteurs Association was formed. With it began a new stage marked by direct action in which there were massive raids in laboratories, undercover investigations, liberations of animals and sabotage against mink farms, slaughterhouses and other infrastructures. At the same moment, essays such as Animal Machines (Harrison, 1964) and, later, Animal Liberation (Singer, 1975), provided a growing number of people concerned about animals with tools to understand and combat their exploitation. All this ended up laying the foundations of the Animal Liberation movement. Since then, countless projects have been developed throughout much of the international geography aiming at dismantling the mechanisms and structures that legitimize and produce the exploitation of animals.

Tras los Muros is a project which is close to these ideas. Through reports and graphic investigations that portray the exploitation of animals as well as the various struggles that confront it, Behind the Walls offers useful information for the analysis of speciesism and its consequences.

It is not an organization, but a personal photography project for Animal Liberation.

The power of an image

The industry of animal exploitation has formidable power and, since they know the impact of images, what happens behind the walls of their farms, hatcheries, laboratories, slaughterhouses, etc. is kept carefully hidden from the consumer.

Investigations held by many organisations during the last decades show a very different reality from the advertising campaigns that the industry usually launches. The impact that real images would have in society, and consequently in the industry, is such that the activists are being permanently pursued. In the US, where the animal rights movement [1] has a long history, there are several laws born from the inside of the animal exploitation industry —like the AEPA, the AETA and the newly issued AG-GAG laws— which forbid filming and documenting what happens in these places to the point of considering these actions not only criminal, but also practices of "(eco) terrorism" [2].

In the report published by Europol in 2011 Situation in the terrorist activity in the European Union: situation and trends  there is a statement that draws much attention [3]:

«In addition to such attacks [the sabotages perpetrated clandestinely in infrastructures-], ARE [animal right extremist] activists also use disinformation methods in order to discredit their targets and weaken their public acceptance. Images of sick and abused animals are embedded in video footage and made public.»

This same report in 2014 continues with references to the same subject [4]:

«hey carry out campaigns to highlight animal suffering by means of ‘live exposure’ and by posting video footage on the Internet secretly recorded at mink, poultry and pig farms.»

In June of 2011 eleven activists were accused of "eco-terrorism" in Spain, linking researches that had been conducted in breeding minks for the fur industry with the clandestine activities of the ALF (Animal Liberation Front [5]). After testifying in front of the judge and spending five days in custody, three of them were remanded. Today more than 20 people are awaiting trial [5].

The route designed to neutralize those mobilized by the Animal Liberation Front seems clear: the industry wields power, and whosoever puts it in doubt becomes a threat to their economic interests.

When we consider what has led many of us to mobilize against the injustices perpetrated upon animals, we remember that image (or the sum of them) that struck our consciousness and made us feel responsible. We implicitly recognise/admit the power and efficacy of these visual fragments that someone obtained infiltrating the animal exploitation centres. If they hadn’t the power to incite change, not so many resources would be used to prevent the activist cameras from breaking through the walls of these centres.

Tras los Muros (behind the walls)

Much of the activities in which I have been involved have been to boycott and protest against places where animals are exploited and confined, as well as investigate and document them. These experiences, where I have witnessed countless abuses, aggressions and injustices, lead today to the project Tras los Muros, the name under which I publish this work.

Through photographs and short reports obtained on the inside of the animal exploitation industry, the project offers images for reflection and debate that challenge the relationship we have built with other animals.

Due to security reasons, and the characteristics of the project, I maintain anonymity on the web. If you're interested in publishing any of the reports shown here, or some kind of collaboration, we can connect in person if necessary.

Gallery and reports are free for public use and dissemination

The project aims to gather quality images from different areas of animal exploitation (zoos, aquariums, farms, slaughterhouses, festivals, bullfighting, animal sales, farms, ...) and are made available for use by any activist, individual or not-for-profit organisation, on the proviso that they are used only in pursuit of shared aims and that the resource sare used to further the same goals as intended by their original publication.

For more information: terms of use of the images.

If you are interested in using any of these images, if you are journalist or if you want to help in any way please do not hesitate to contact me at the following email: vidas@TraslosMuros.com.

Sources and Notes:

  1. Animal Rights or Animal Liberation Movement: enlace.
  2. To learn more about the question of the implementation of laws tailored to the industry visit the following links::
    - AETA y AEPA: Wikipedia
    - Analysis in the specialized blog, Green is the new Red, on the repression of the Animal Liberation Movement: link.
  3. Situation in the terrorist activity in the European Union: situation and trends (2011): enlace
  4. Situation in the terrorist activity in the European Union: situation and trends (2014): enlace
  5. What is the Animal Liberation Front: enlace
  6. In June 2011, 11 activists of the organisations Equanimal and Animal Equality (one was abroad and could not be found) were arrested and accused of eco-terrorism. Their investigations in minks farms were identified to clandestine liberation actions of the FLA .