Siblings – Photographs by Wendy Stone | Essay by Magali Duzant

The sound of a yawn. The squeak of a swing. The creak and slap of climbing feet. A sudden explosive splash of water. A pant. A bark.

Yawn. Sigh. Squeak. Splash. Woof.

Rare is the photograph one can first describe with sounds. And yet, in Wendy Stone’s playful series Siblings, sound is the first of the senses awakened. A child stretched out, limbs akimbo, lies against a dog whose jaw is opened in a yawn so wide you would swear you could hear it. In striking black and white, the photographs shift between moments of chaos and calm as they follow the exploits of this ragtag crew of siblings.

Dog Man. My son, his dog and a Dog Man book on a lazy summer day. © Wendy Stone

What is it like to have siblings? As someone looking from the outside in, it would appear to be a constant stream of laughter, arguments, whispers, movement, and exhaustion. The siblings in question are Stone’s son and two dogs, Marius and Sasha. One often hears of a child’s relationship with a beloved pet, and of the importance of the companionship provided by furry friends. And yet the series is aptly titled Siblings because the scenes captured transcend the owner-pet relationship; our three protagonists are indeed kin. Napping, stretching, observing, hiding, and goofing off together. They make a merry, mischievous band of three as they romp through the images.

Boy Legs Dog Legs. My son and Sasha hanging out on the couch. © Wendy Stone

What sets the work apart is the attention paid to all of our protagonists. The dogs are not impersonating people as a gimmick; rather they are depicted as the family unit they are, with care, compassion, and personality. With a bandage placed upon his fur, Marius peers up at the camera, mirrored by the toy dog beside him. As his brother swings in one direction, Sasha erupts into a barking jump in the other. Small details such as the light that spills onto her son as he crouches down to dog level, the way a playground apparatus frames a dog, and the curved structure through which a hunt for candy is caught make Stone’s pictures shine.

Sasha. Sasha is the sweetest dog we have ever had, except when she sees another dog, then it’s all about the bark. © Wendy Stone

The kinetic energy builds and bubbles, punctured occasionally by the need for quiet; two pairs of legs, one accompanied by a tail, stretch out on a sofa, a sliver of daylight seeming to mark the hour. But of course, this doesn’t last for long as the mischief continues, the sound of the three starts up, and they’re off again, splashing, tumbling, swinging through the day.

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