Whatever your views on the ethics of eating meat, most TreeHuggers would probably agree that the world would be a better place without the horrors of industrial meat farms. It's one thing to think this in theory though, and quite another to be confronted by the realities of these massive factories. One artist has set out to explore what these farms really look like—and what they say about our relationships to the animals they contain. She does so in a surprisingly beautiful manner.
Beauty in Surprising Places
Much like artist Julie Brookman who finds beauty in her photography of plastic bags, artist Miru Kim—brought to our attention by reader Young Stone—uses her nude body to pose among hogs in industrial pig farms, creating visually haunting photographs that raise deep questions about our connections with the animal kingdom.
"As I got older, I learned that pigs were strikingly similar to humans in their physiology. In some ways, pigs are anatomically closer to humans than non-human primates. As such, they are commonly used as specimens in laboratory classes for premedical students like myself back in college years. I remember peeling away carefully with forceps, scalpel, and scissors, the integument of a fetal pig. Layer by layer, I got to the abdominal cavity. When it was finally cut open, I saw an elaborate cluster of organs arranged in a way almost identical to what I'd seen in human anatomy books. Pigs-the animals we call greedy, lazy, and unclean-have long been chosen as the prime potential non-human suppliers of organs like kidneys, hearts, and livers to humans."
What Does It Mean?
Miru Kim doesn't, in her artists' statement at least, come out directly for or against eating pigs. She does, however, explore the fact that 1.2 billion pigs are slaughtered each year in the world, and she discusses the idea that "the 17th century model of animals as machines has been remarkably surpassed in the last century: animals as profit-generating raw materials for commodity production in mass quantities."
Whatever the artists' views on the rights and wrongs of meat, farming and industrial agriculture, one thing seems clear—she is asking us to look long and hard at these living creatures that are increasingly treated as a commodity.