Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wim Delvoye is banned from exhibiting tattooed pigs in China

Eight tattooed pigs by Wim Delvoye have been pulled before the opening of SHContemporary in Shanghai, China. The pigs were tattooed with Walt Disney characters and other symbols. There has been no official comment about the ban from the art fair organizers, but Delvoye has made his frustration known, stating, “We have collectors who've traveled to China all the way from Europe to see the pigs. They're very disappointed.''. If they had been purchased by collectors the pigs would have been slaughtered and their preserved skins sold for over $10,000 a piece. Delvoye went on to say that he does not understand why the ban was so “aggressive“.
Wim Delvoye has been tattooing pigs since the 1990s. In recent years it seems that more artists are killing animals in the name of what they call art. Is it art? What are your thoughts on this project? Should a line be drawn between branding animals for slaughter and consumption and tattooing and slaughtering animals in the name of art? What say you?
Jasmine with Unicorn, 2004, 140 x 100 cm, tattoo on pigskin, tanned
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Anonymous said...

First of all, I do not "think" either of these activities are very ethical. With that being said, I can see, to a slightly greater extent, ending the pigs life for the sake of food.

Now, if this artist wants to wait for a pig to be slaughtered and have the butcher give him or sell him the skin to create his work of "art" I guess I would be more okay with it. I say this only because the pig would have already lost its life and I firmly believe that the whole animal should be used out of respect, nothing should be wasted, very much in line with the Native American tradition, from my understanding.

I dont understand this trend your speaking of Brian. It does not make a lot of since to me but I guess it would not since am a huge supporter of animal rights (as well as an artist.)

It would seem to me that at this point it is simply about shock value and what can a person get away with at the cost of another life? As well as the sickening, overwhelming trend to not give a damn about anyone else but oneself.

And, why would these art collectors pay money for such "art" and then slaughter the cow to rob it of its skin? It just seems to me to be one more example of what our world is coming to. Unfortunately I am having a difficult time staying very positive about our motives and the true nature of humanity at this point in time.

Balhatain said...

Marilee, you made some good points-- especially the part about native traditions. Oddly enough, I've read that some people defend Delvoye's work, and others who kill or have animals killed for their work, by mentioning those same traditions. However, I'd say that what he does is a twisted form of that process at best. I highly doubt he views it as a ritual.

Often works like this are made to question how we view consumerism so that we may question some of the items that we buy. I don't know if that is Delvoye's message or not.

It may very well be that he views this as some form of protest in order to reveal how hypocritical consumers can be in regards to how animal remains are used to create products. However, even if he is making a statement about what we accept as products I think he could do it in other ways. I mean... you don't kill thousands of people and start a war in order to protest against war, right? (I'm sure some of you will debate that due to recent history)

One thing is for certain... making shocking art will get you press time and may even make you a very wealthy artist. Unfortunately, if an artist kills something, casts part of the remains in gold, and places diamonds in the exposed part of the remains he or she may become a sensation overnight. Especially if he or she titles the piece 'Big Bang Jesus' or something like that.

Sometimes I think that I should not post about artists like this because in a way it is giving them what they want. At the same time I think it is important. Action can only be taken if people are aware of what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Chinese government just hates stupidity. Communism did come about as a result of the excesses of capitalism. What could be more representative of decadent excess than this? Go Commies!(YBAs)

Art academia delenda est.

Anonymous said...

Well, it seems to me that he is making a statement about our consumerism by tattooing Disney characters and the like (some of our most viral world influences after Coca-Cola, McDonalds and the word "OK") on pigs, which carry a lot of symbolism in and of themselves. Which makes it all the more ironic that he would have the pigs killed in order to sell their skins for what I can only assume is an exorbitant amount.
The whole animal cruelty thing is a separate issue in itself. I agree with Marilee, that in an ideal world, no part of the animals we eat would be wasted. I'm not a big fan of meat myself, but I also don't want to go completely without it.

Anonymous said...

I think that animals should not be forced to endure tattoos for some far-fetched concept of 'art.'. If the same designs were inked on paper, they would be banal and childish. Does forcing a pig to have them injected into its skin make them significant?

Too many people look for some gimmick or shock value to make what is boring and unimaginative crap draw attention to itself.

Poor pigs.

I don't, however, feel at all sorry for the buyers of this who part with their money, or for the 'artist,' who was prevented from inflicting his rather pathetic quest for novelty, and theoretic bluff on the general public.

Seems that the Chinese were not fooled. They have a perfect right to decide that this work was not worth display. It's called jurying. It's how you weed out the crap.

Anonymous said...

Oy. I am all for transgressive art, but I have to say that I'm not a big fan of this project. I think it's cruel.

I do understand the juxtaposition of the pig skin vs the human skin; however, humans choose to endure the self inflicted pain of a tattoo, whereas pigs cannot express their "disinterest," if you will.

Anonymous said...

The best thing to do about this sort of Post-Modernist crap-ola is simply to ignore it completely.

"Silence is the perfect expression of scorn."
- Oscar Wilde

Anonymous said...

Hmm. While I do believe there is art to the ritual and craft of tattoo, the pig thing does have me perplexed. And the slaughtering and collecting of the skins is a bit perverse --even on a wicked hormone filled perimenopausal day-- at best. Yes, some Buddhist monks do this very same thing as a ritualistic practice, at the time of their deaths. They have their tattooed back work removed and saved. This is a conscious choice.

But the pig doesn't make the choice, does it/he/she? For the tattoo, the slaughter, or consumption.

The "artist", the consumer, and the collector is making the choice for the pig.

In this, is the horror. And perhaps the point.

Does it make this art? I don't know. In my not so humble opinion, I find this "art" self-indulgent and masturbatory at best.

It is provocative? Yes. But so were the lamps made of human skin by Nazis. Were those art? Most would say no. Me too.

To this end, I have to side with Marilee. Some of these concepts are interesting to explore, but it is difficult to stay positive about motives and the nature of our humanity the further down this road we travel.

What a statement of our lack of well being. Again, perhaps this is the point.

Hungry Hyaena said...

Generally, I agree with the preceding sentiments; Delvoye's project is undeniably perverse.

It is not, however, easily dismissed or ignored. Art projects such as this one (and Hirst's "For the Love of God") are more likely to have anthropological significance centuries from now and, as such, should perhaps be the subject of more discussion. Furthermore, though many progressive individuals will condemn Delvoye's methods, they continue to wear clothing and carry handbags made with leather and, more importantly, to eat meat. Although I doubt very much that Delvoye slaughters the pigs himself, I assume that the meat is consumed - China is a hungry nation, after all - and that the artist is close to this messy part of the process. In that respect, he is assuming moral responsibility that most of us in the industrialized world shirk.

Anonymous said...

Uh, the sue of leather is one of the oldest and most useful products disvored and used by man. The tanning of animal skin has been around for thousands of years, and of everyday practical use, like the eating of their flesh and use of all parts of their carcasses. Humans are omnivores, designed to art meat along with many other foods, in a ballanced diet to be strong and filled with creative energy. Vegans usually waiflike and sad, as their bodies are not fully fueled and sustained with the proper nourishment. Few can live on a vegetarian diet, all bodies are slightly different, and the skin and hair of vegans is usually horrible, as seen by all but the wackos themselves.

Thank god for leather, but this is just stupid. Dont need any other reasons.

Anonymous said...

most leather doesnt come from meat animals. it is easier to condem an artist than the multinational corporation that feeds and clothes most of you.
most pigs have horible inhumane pitiful lives and are tattooed branded kept in small cages and uncared for etc.
this kind of art shows many people up for being hypocrits and that seems to make them angry and then they lash out at the artist.... rather than ceasing to be hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

Poor pigs?. yeah right... These pigs are pampered beyond what most humans experience. Do you think that the pork people buy in the supermarket everday live anything close to a decent life before they're slaughtered? They aren't hurt during the tattooing process, they are very well taken care of, and once the pigs are slaughtered, the meat is still consumed. If you ask me, Wim is doing these pigs a favor, he is giving them an amazing quality of life in comparison to their not-so-lucky relatives that are abused and live in filth before they reach the supermarkets.
I am all for animal rights and I don't eat pork myself, but you have to admit, pigs are mis-treated and slaughtered every day for human consumption, at least these pigs have a healthy life before they meet that end.

kirsti gholson said...

Whenever people resort to exploiting animals for art or entertainment, it means they have run out of ideas (or never had any originality in the first place). Delvoye is just looking for whatever stupid, uncreative way he can get stupid, uncreative people to give him lots of money. I find such lack of empathy to other beings (tattoos HURT) disgusting.

amandalikes said...

to Donald Frazell,
The skin and hair of most vegans is horrible?? And you founded this on Ballet Austin and Trenton Doyle Hancock's Cult of Color: Call to Color i assume? So well informed it blows me away.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what everyone is so upset about!
I was just at the jersey shore last weekend, there were
lots of tattooed pigs walking around and no one was bothered by it.