In his ongoing project “Mystery Meat”, Texas-born visual artist Peter Augustus explores the disconnect between mass-produced foods and their “natural”, unprocessed form. Augustus’ photo series depicts various fast food dainties with their ingredients stripped down to their primal state: chicken nuggets to chicken feet, BLT to pork legs, etc.
The idea for the project was born after Augustus moved to Hong Kong where he currently resides. Artist was fascinated by the local meat shops, exposing various animal parts to their customers. He claims that Westerners are rarely in touch with “anything that even closely represents what kind of animals we are eating”. Most often, we purchase processed, prepackaged and showcased meat products without even knowing the real source.
The deeper and more disturbing side to Augustus’ work is the very notion of “mystery meat”. What is often marketed as 100 percent meat product, in reality comprises of various contents. The gruesome trend of intransparency is especially present in fast food market.
“I hope to cause the viewer to take into account what the natural form of their food looks like. I think the work highlights a number of important debates, and it is not meant to be repulsive — just to raise awareness. It also touches on the longstanding debate of the quality of chicken and meat products and the use of unnatural fillers and hormones in the animal products we eat daily.”
For the photographer Per Johansen’s new series, the artist shoots plastic bottles filled and overflowing with raw and bloody meat, exploring human consumption and calling into question the ethics of the meat industry. The project, titled Mæt (meaning Full) uses recycled plastic bottles to stand in for the human stomach and appetite; each is then stuffed with chicken, eel, sausage, liver, fish. When viewing this disturbing and probative project, viewers are forced too to consider the morality of using a once-living being in art; if the work makes a statement against cruel techniques in meat production, is it then exempt from the same ethical criticism?
Shot under expert lighting to reveal the textures of the dead flesh, each image reads like a scientific specimen, an objective and disturbing archive of meat production. The stomach-turning images are hard to look at; like organisms preserved in jars and formaldehyde, the meat products look less like food and more like grotesque captives. Their biological beauty is expressed through the ridges of a snail shell; a compressed cephalopod fleshes emerald hues, and the shiny metallic glint of scales presses against the cruel plastic. A pair of eel eyes appear deadened, and an eel mouth seems to open in a silent scream, a head thrust from the bottle neck.
Here, the human appetite for meat is shown as wasteful, the stomach equated with the plastic bottle, an object associated with careless consumption. The work’s website asks viewers, “Are you full now?” This idea brings us back to our initial question: is it humane to use meat for creative purposes, or is it degrading and wrong to use once-living organisms in such a way? Does the answer change when the work is meant to protest human gluttony and the grotesque nature of mass meat production? Let us know what you think in the comments! (via Feature Shoot)
The ‘carcasses’ of Tamara Kostianovsky are made entirely of her own clothing. She ‘cannabalizes’ her clothes to create life size racks of meat, fat, and bone. Using unwanted clothing, Kostianovsky emphasizes the human body and its constant physical demands. The work becomes a kind of parable for the nearly violent cycle of consumption. She says of the series:
“My intention is to confront the viewers with the real and grotesque nature of violence, offering a context for reflecting about the vulnerability of our physical existences, brutality, poverty, consumption, and the voracious needs of the body.”
It’s obvious that Victoria Reynolds is a skilled artist, but I personally don’t really see why anyone would want one of her paintings in their home or collection. They are scary and seem to promote a kind of negative energy that only a butcher or serial killer could be attracted to. But then again maybe that’s what she’s going for – that niche market of rich collectors who also have rooms full of dead bodies and future victims. (via)