The incongruity of this image lies in the fact of a horse in the hospital room of a metastatic cancer patient, as she hugs her son. Animal-assisted therapy, also known as pet therapy, is used in many clinical environments, especially psychological therapy and palliative care. Animals seem to be able to reduce anxiety and stress, and also have physical effects, such as lowering blood pressure, improving heart rate or helping with pain management. Horses seem particularly suitable for palliative care as they are especially in tune with the surrounding environment.
In some sort of hyperreal fashion, this image of a sea lion swimming with a face mask in California made evident the amazing statistics of how many masks have been used during the pandemic so far. The BBC reported an estimated 129 billion disposable face masks used each month during the pandemic. Such personal protective equipment can be mistaken for food by birds, fish, marine mammals, and other animals. 8 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year.
Another positive story from the exhibition came from the theatrical projects in remote Yakutia, in the far northeast of the Russian Federation. The photographs show a culturally thriving community, performing stories to preserve the Shaka culture, which opens your eyes to how people live in distant and otherwise hard to get to know regions like this. The recent local movie industry is lightheartedly dubbed “Shakawood”.
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