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Sunday, January 22, 2012
|The installed piece @ Gallery Project in Ann Arbor.|
So many things come to mind when we think about the end of the world, I hardly know where to begin. As I type this, REM’s “It’s the End of the World (as we know it)” is buzzing about in my head and images of burnt out buildings, smoking rubble, and the undead flash before my eyes. Growing up, I was haunted by the monthly air raid siren’s test. I would shudder in fear as it wailed each month, and I couldn’t wait until it was over. Back then, the end of the world would have been a nuclear attack or some other invasion from a not so friendly country to the east or west. Now, a spilled test tube or our food chain can cause our demise.
The bible was also a source for juvenile angst, as I came across an illustrated tract showing just what would happen via the book of Revelations. The portable guillotines to sever the heads of the non-Beast adopting Christians still hangs in my memory. Then there is my love of horror movies and my way too early viewing of “Night of the Living Dead.” Our 7th grade student council decided that we should have a movie instead of a Valentine’s Dance one year; they picked “Night of the Living Dead.” I don’t remember anyone on the faculty being fired for this, but I am certain that after all the screaming, the fake retching, and howls of disgust over the zombie’s feeding on the victim’s guts, parental phone calls were made in protest. For months, I imagined what it would be like to be holed up in a basement for the rest of my life, afraid to go out because of the undead and their proclivity for human chittlins.Regardless of how it plays out, it won’t be fun.
The photo was taken at Carson’s 6th birthday. We bought him the requisite art supplies (as is my want as an art teacher) but I sweetened the package with some rubber zombies bought at the local toy store. Carson was in love with his new gun, and was shooting everyone in its site. I was fiddling around with the zombies, trying to get them to look like they were actually at the party, and I noticed Carson pointing the gun at me. I asked him to wait and brought two of the undead up into the camera’s focus. He aimed, with great precision, and I snapped the pic just as the light from the gun went off. Not sure where the line of light came from, but I think it adds to the picture.If I do end up sequestered in a basement somewhere, I hope I have Carson nearby with his amazing aim.
|"White Meat" part of "Food for Thought" @ Gallery Project|
I have had a keen sense of where my food comes from since I was a little kid. I grew up with a grandfather who was a 4H advisor, which meant my brother and I got to spend a lot of time at the annual Darke County Fair in Greenville, OH. I was never shielded from the slaughtering process, nor was I ever part of it. I just knew it happened. A local Polish Grocery on the corner of the street where I grew up had a hand painted sign advertising “Fresh Duck Blood” for anyone who would need it for their pot of czernina. I am not sure if they had a duck tied up in back that they bled for the shopper’s request, or if they would get it some other way. Regardless, it was odd.As we talked about the various ways we could present this show at our Collaborator meetings, some very robust and often disturbing conversations came out. I wish we would record our meetings, as the process of getting the show ready is very intense. We were discussing the human/animal connection to food, and I brought up that we had bought a pig at our county fair from a 4H girl who raised organic hogs. Our five year old daughter was delighted and couldn’t wait to go to the fair to see the pig. I have a feeling that she thought we would go to the Pork Barn and she would slip a leash on the creature and we would all skip home with our new porcine family member. It was a quiet ride home as she contemplated the pig in our chest freezer in the basement and not frolicking in our backyard.
So how did this piece come to be? I had an interesting phone call with the meat processing place as I discussed how we wanted the pig cut up after it was killed. I had looked up all the butcher’s cuts in one of my cookbooks so I could talk about all the cuts and that image of the animals prepped for butchering lingered in my mind. Our friend Charley is an athlete and a gourmand, a great combination, as he can eat and then go work off the calories with his rowing. He is also a very large man. I shared with the collaborators that our group of friends have often joked that if we were stranded in some remote location, we’d want Charley to be with us so we could eat him. Within a second, the image of Charley with the butcher cuts marked on his wide back came to mind. I asked the curators if they thought that this image was appropriate for the show and I got an enthusiastic thumbs up. I quickly called Charley and shared with him the concept and he was more than delighted to help out. Aaron, a model from the college, came to the shoot to help out and easily slipped into the role of butcher. While my original idea of just Charley with the lines didn’t make it to the gallery, this final, more sinister piece did. My love of horror and slasher-films, as well as my rather macabre sense of humor took over as we played out the various poses at the shoot.Is this piece meant to be anti-meat? Not at all.
Is it pro-cannibal? Possibly.
Is it meant to make you think about what we eat and where our food comes from? Most certainly.