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)