pig skin

Working with pigs skin is, frankly, one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my art practice. I have to force myself to walk into the butcher and look at all the fleshy bits cut up into neat and tidy display sections. There’s a Chinese butcher shop downtown where I go to get fresh cuts of meat. The shop sells pigs ears, pigs tails, hearts, livers, chicken feet, etc. and has them all neatly lined up in the fridge.

butcher1

Today I walked into the shop and asked for pig skin again. This time they gave me a big bag full of skin from different body parts; many with strands of hair. What’s more…they didn’t want any money for it. The pigs skin literally isn’t worth much on the meat market.

butcher2

The ease of buy and trading pig skin makes me feel nauseated. I realize that by being vegetarian I have forgotten what it is like to be standing in a butcher shop smelling blood and meat. And as much I don’t want to be there, I realize that it is better to see such displays than forget that I am still implicated in consuming animals; whether that be wearing leather shoes, reading my leather bound dayplanner, making these images, or using fetal bovine serum in the nutrient solution to feed human cells.

butcher3

For this project, I feel that it easier to use excess human skin from a consenting patient undergoing an elective plastic surgery procedure than pig skin bought from a butcher (even though it too would probably be thrown away of not purchased that day).

For another perspective on pig-human relations see Kira O’Reilly’s performance work based on her experiences doing tissue culture in the lab. Her text “inthewrongplaceness’ is beautifully written.http://www.tract-liveart.co.uk/Kira%20O%27Reilly/Kira%20O%27Reilly.html

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