Ruth Montiel Arias: Bestiae
ArtistRuth Montiel Arias
Soft cover, 128 pages, 180 x 250 mm
In 2016, Galician photographer Ruth Montiel Arias (b. 1977, Spain) started following different groups of hunters in various batidas (hunting modalities) in Spain. ‘Bestiae’, as this 2-year project is titled, has now turned into a multi-layered photobook reflecting on the ritualistic aspect of hunting.
The publication is divided into four sections that illuminate the different sides of hunting – the reality of the practice through documentary photographs but also presenting more abstract images exposing the emotional side of hunting rituals. The documentary images are usually surrounded by a white border while the more atmospheric ones are stretched over the whole pages in the book, further indicating the intersections of the real and the symbolic.
Arias’s photographs are dark and evoke an ominous feeling. Her visual language accentuates the bestiality of the act of hunting while not necessarily focusing on graphic imagery. Instead, she provides a female perspective on the issue by using both activist and elegant aesthetics where the interchange of different visual strategies allows the viewer to contemplate and experience the work simultaneously.
‘Bestiae’ ends with a series of three texts that discuss the concept of hunting from a cultural and philosophical point of view. The first piece is written by philosopher Catia Faria who analyses the notion of predation towards both animals and women, art historian Carmen Dalmau examines hunting in relation to the arts and researcher Estela Díaz delivers an activist text that exposes and disputes the alleged arguments of hunting federations. These writers not only complement the work of Arias but additionally provide an insight into the concept of hunting from various disciplines.
The symbiosis of documentation and emotional experience is at the centre of ‘Bestiae’. The multi-layered nature of this intimate account of violence is not easily absorbed but flipping through the pages with patience will give access to an affective journey.
‘Bestiae’ includes texts in both English and Spanish. You can purchase a copy here.