Award-winning photographer Jeff Friesen's 'Last Migration' pictorial frames plastic animal toys in natural environments, capturing the regal essence of the majestic animal kingdom in a diminutive, fabricated format. While the images are intriguing, what's more captivating is the intention and the message behind Friesen's work. He offers, "Our encounters with the animal kingdom begin shortly after birth. We learn the alphabet using aardvarks and zebras. We make friends with teddy bears... Given our early attachment to animals it’s surprising that as adults many people are indifferent to the fate of wild creatures. It’s well publicized that a wide range of animals are threatened by human activity, yet in most cases their numbers continue to decline. In the future will we be left with nothing more than plastic toys as proxies for the real thing? Is the animal last migration from flesh to plastic?"
Throughout his Last Migration series, Friesen poises plastic toy animals in real habitats and landscapes that skew their scale to make the setting and ensuing photograph lifelike. For instance, he explains, “The polar bear is on the beach atop a film of water left by a receding wave. For an instant the water is still and reflects the sky. Then another wave comes roaring in, knocking the bear over while I try not to get soaked—the camera is only two inches above the wet sand.”
Friesen captures the imagination of a young audience with his toy photography, while appealing to the sensibilities and pulling the heartstrings of adults who recall playing with such toys and who now have grave concerns over the future of many of the animals’ real-life counterparts.
On a lighter note, Friesen also has a vast collection of lively, vibrant and comical prints via his photo series ‘Wild Life.’ This series began as a project for his daughter’s room, and it uses the same animals (and many more) as the ones pictured in Last Migration. A personable cast of characters from lions, tigers and bears to dinosaurs, pigs and foxes leap off these prints and make bold decor statements for any room in the house.
All images © Jeff Friesen