In the spring of 2017, I was commissioned by The New York Times to photograph the National Wildlife Property Repository, a warehouse on the outskirts of Denver packed with illegal animal parts and products. These are objects of want and desire. Many are made from threatened or endangered species.
The spectrum of non-perishable products can be divided into three categories: trophies, medicinal products and fashion accessories. Most is contraband, seized at major ports of entry around the United States.
Collectively, the facility and the 1.3 million products within its walls represent an evidence vault, one that testifies to an economy serving the human appetite for other species.
Tristan Spinski (b.1978) is a photographer and co-founding member of GRAIN, a photography collective. Tristan attended the University of Delaware, where he studied English, and earned his master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley. He is a regular contributor to an array of publications, including The New York Times, Audubon and Mother Jones. Much of his work centers on the intersections between people and landscapes. He lives in Portland, Maine.