In his series Hornless Heritage, Dortmund-based photographer Nikita Teryoshin (b. 1986, Russian) explores the German dairy industry, which is creating turbo cows: high-performance, milk producing machines. Their horns, which should protect the cows and give them autonomy, are painfully removed with branding irons. This reduces the cows to mere milk machines, and raises the question: could modern livestock farming offer insight into the future of mankind?
“Although this dystopia might seem bit exaggerated, the way we treat animals suggests—in part—how we treat each other,” Teryoshin states. Trying to sort out our relationship with cattle, the series show the multiple faces of the industry. We see cattle fairs, technological devices, milking systems, ‘cow pageants’, photoshoots and much more. Using an intrusive flash, he frames his subjects in an unromantic way, illuminating the harsh reality of these animals with a darkly comedic perspective.
Young cows are shown alongside young farm boy – one for sale and one not – and we are left to wonder about the system of trading life. While a farmer makes an average of 33 cents per kilogram of raw milk, Teryoshin’s series asks us to question the real price of milk. His saturated, colourful images don’t serve only to unsettle the viewer, but to awaken interest for the topic.