Words: Cecily Layzell

Photos: Yana Wernicke

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In stunning black and white, photographer Yana Wernicke documents the intimate bond between two women and the rescued farm animals they care for.

People and their pets have long been a source of artistic inspiration – and occasionally irritation for anyone who has had their social media flooded with cute cat pictures. Less common are images of people enjoying the company of animals generally regarded as commodities to be consumed. 

 In her latest book, German photographer Yana Wernicke follows Rosina and Julie, two young women who have established profound relationships with cows, pigs, geese and other farm animals they rescue from slaughter.

Called Companions in English, the book imagines a “magical utopia” where humans and animals can co-exist as equals. The German word for companions captures this better: Weggefährten translates literally as ‘those who walk the path together’.

“I like that idea of walking the path together. I specially chose animals that are not typically considered as companions. But the women are also companions to these animals. The animals have built relationships with them, they miss them when they are not there, and you can see that they are happy when they come back. Companionship goes both ways,” says Wernicke.

“I really wanted to show the animals as complex characters and not as representatives of their breed. That’s also why I listed all the names of the animals and the women on the back of the book because they each are their own characters, their own beings.”

Featuring almost no other text, Companions lets the images do the talking.

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