Keep the Cages Open Before You Leave

Personal photography project, artist book, inspired by two Oe Kenzaburo's novels, The Silent Cry and The Flood Invades My Spirit.

Zoo animals escaped from their confinement and went out to the streets.

Animals are the masters of a new world order and nature reclaims its rights on the planet which has been long ago appropriated by human beings.

This is not fiction, but rather a warning.

A special of Life After People television series directed by David de Vries aired on January 21, 2008. Invited ecologists, biologists, futurologists, and many other scientists speculated about the evolutionary scenarios which might unfold on Earth after the disappearance of humanity. There is no need to compete with others in discovering the reasons of this catastrophe—each year brings new doomsday theories ranging from fairly scientific to extremely fictional. What intrigues more, however, is how long it would take Mother Nature to reinstate its rights and erase the memory of our presence on the planet. From rotten food in fridges left without power, radical climate change, and asphalt roads consumed by plants, to books and films—memory of the humankind—condemned to vanish in archives and libraries in some hundred years. Adaptation and reinstatement of wildlife; domestic animals, that survive, run wild...

“Zoo animals are really the great unknown, depending on whether or not they could escape from their confinement, then things change dramatically...”

John Hadidian, urban ecologist with the Humane Society of the United States

My photography project is both a warning and a guide for those who are ready for an enthusiastic, passionate, and—unfortunately—often futile debate about politics, economy, environment, and demography. Ironically, instead of talking small we can slightly open every enclosure in zoos across the world. And after that—get back to the debates and idle talks waiting for a disaster to happen.

“There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.”

Sara Teasdale


All images are created using film and multiple exposure technique with subsequent scanning of negatives.

The book was created in the framework of graduate work in IPAP, 2017.

Russian translation of both novels: Vladimir Grivnin
English translation of The Silent Cry: John Bester
English translation of the fragments from The Flood Invades My Spirit: Olga Perevalova
Photographs, concept, design, and layout: Dmitry Khovanskiy
Edition in Russian, English, and Japanese.

Moscow, 2017.

The Silent Cry and The Flood Invades My Spirit © 1967, 1973 Oe Kenzaburo
Russian translation © 1983, 1978 Vladimir Grivnin
English translation © 1976 John Bester
English translation © 2017 Olga Perevalova
Photographs, concept, design, layout © 2017 Dmitry Khovanskiy

Printed in Moscow by Republica
Paper: Gardapat 13 KIARA white 150 g/m2
Book format: 297x396 mm

Version 1. Edition: 7 numbered copies.
Version 2. Edition: 15 numbered copies.



Photographic film


The film was created as one of the work's stages on the project.

It's used fragments of Frederic Chopin works: Etude No.12 in c-moll, Op.25 and Prelude E-moll, Op.28, No.4.

This film took part in the VIII International Festival of Photography “Photovisa” (Multimedia show, Selection of Irina Chmyreva, Art-Director of International Festival of Photography), 2016.