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July 25th, 2008

NIGEL BARKER PRESENTS ‘A SEALED FATE?’ @ 401 PROJECTS.

by Joelle Panisch

Nigel Barker premiered his latest work, “A Sealed Fate?” in an exhibit at 401 Projects in the West Village on Thursday. The collection of photographs is in collaboration with The Humane Society International to stop the Canadian commercial seal hunt (specifically baby harp seals), and a labor of love for the “noted fashion photographer,” founder of StudioNB and a judge for the popular television show America’s Next Top Model.

Approached by the Humane Society after Paul McCartney stepped down as spokesperson, Mr. Barker looked at it as an opportunity to fight for a cause that inspires him. Born in London, he lived with his parents and five siblings on a farm that included pigs, chickens, horses, cows and “dozens of dogs.” He’s not an extremist, but Mr. Barker always considered respect for animals a moral desideratum.

“What’s being done to the seals is the ugliest side of human nature and completely unnecessary,” Mr. Barker said. “As a photographer I new this wasn’t just ‘lend a face, lend a name.’ I new this was something I could take photographs (of) and use my trade to illuminate it, to document it and talk about it and film it.”

The exhibit includes a short documentary, which Mr. Barker directed and produced over the course of a two-week trip to Canada’s picturesque ice caps. The resulting images are powerful and haunting, as the harsh reality of the fate of such endearing creatures is realized.

Being primarily a fashion photographer, the project allowed Mr. Barker to showcase a different side of his talents.

“I’m a photographer. I shoot fashion because I also love it but it’s a means to an end. Ultimately I like to think of myself as a creative person and whatever my medium might be, I rise to the challenge to do your best and hope to take a winning picture.”

Mr. Barker has another motivation for his charitable missions as well—legacy. And not his public one, but rather the legacy he will leave in the eyes of his children. With a young son by wife Cristen Chin Barker and another child on the way, fighting for the seals seems exponentially important. “Hopefully I will teach my son that he can make a difference, and he’ll become a man who takes a stand.”

Along with the help of countless others it seems that Mr. Barker’s pairing with the Humane Society may have already had an impact. A declaration was passed through the European Parliament for the European Union (EU) to ban all seal products in all 27 of the participating nations. This is a landmark decision to halt seal cruelty.

According to the Humane Society,

“Each year, hundreds of thousands of seals are killed in industrial scale hunts around the world. Canada’s commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth, with more than one million seals killed in the past four years alone. Veterinarians say the slaughter is inherently inhumane because of the environmental conditions in which it operates, the speed at which it must be conducted, and the inability of authorities to monitor the killing.”

For More Information on animal cruelty go to www.hsus.org

‘A Sealed Fate?’ Photographs and Film by Nigel Barker
Open to the Public Friday July 25th- July 27th 12pm-6pm
Visit on the hours of 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm for guided tours with Nigel Barker
401 West Street (at 10th street), New York, NY 10014

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