So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Wim Delvoye: Art Farming

Wim Delvoye: Art Farming by Wim Delvoye

Wim Delvoye is a Belgian artist. One of his projects has been tattooing pigs and exhibiting them in various places around the world. Originating in Belgium, he now has a farm in China called the Art Farm where he raises these pigs. This book, published in 2008, is a photographic album of this project. Each chapter contains color photos from different places arranged in chronological order from 1997 to 2007. Some are collections of photos from exhibits which, since his art is displayed on the skins of live pigs, have the strange mix of an art exhibit and an agricultural show. Some chapters are of his production facilities, first in Belgium and later in China, where he has tattooed and raised the pigs. The cover and fly leafs are pictures of tattoos on the skins of two of his pigs. There are no captions to the photos, just an introductory chapter title giving the location and date of the photos in the set. At the end of the book is a page giving a full Exhibition List showing all the places the pigs have been.
If you want to know more about this project you will have to look elsewhere. This book could have used some additional text to describe the photos, the project, the lives of the pigs, or reactions to the work. It stands as a visual display. The pictures show pigs at the farm, at exhibits, being tattooed, and being seen by audiences and staff. The tattoos are beautiful as are the pigs. While the pigs seem to have a better life than the typical factory farmed pigs raised for food, the book raises questions in my mind on the relationship between humans and animals. This is certainly an unusual aspect of the relationship, but totally in keeping with the power dynamics of humans and farm animals.