Projects > My Body Is Mine
My Body is Mine project.
According to the New York Farm Animal Save there are over 80 live animal businesses in the NYC five boroughs area. There are four within walking distance of my apartment. These urban farmed animal slaughterhouses imprision and slaughter chickens, turkeys, rabbits, pigeons, quail, ducks, guinea hens, lambs, sheep, goats, young cows, bulls and pigs. They come from the intensive farm industry, that is to say from factory farms. As one walks closer to the vicinity of a "live poultry" business a noxious mix of blood, urine, feces and death penetrates the air; walk through the door and the stench of the slaughterhouse is assaulting. Rows of filthy cages stacked on top of each other line all sides of the walls. The animals are stuffed into the cages, huddling together with a pale disquieting awareness. Men in long plastic aprons and rubber boots preside over the inmates. When a customer wants to purchase an animal; the man grabs the frightened animal out of the cage to the alarm of her cage mates and carries her upside down by her feet or hind legs--wings flapping, bodies’ writhing-crying out. There is no thought for her; she is degraded, reduced to a routine violence, a food commodity and that's all. She is bound, weighed and killed within minutes. The customer is handed a plastic shopping bag that contains a warm dead body...
This art project is an eco-feminist protest that aligns feminism with animal defense. The message "my body is mine" is carved into a woodcut of a nonhuman animal silhouette. The starkness of the message resonates with me on multiple levels while situated within the entwined intersections of animal advocacy and feminism. One might take for granted the privileged right to your own body, yet bodies are also sites of unspeakable brutality and oppression through the many systems of racism, sexism, ableism, and speciesism.
Farmed animals are denied even the most basic form of consciousness; that of sentience, their lives are utterly controlled and erased so that their bodies can be manufactured into "meat". Female farmed animals are condemned to a lifetime of physical and emotional violence for their milk and eggs before they are considered "spent" and sent to slaughter.
My first woodcut was pasted on an abandoned abattoir wall where great numbers of animals were slaughtered around the turn of the 20th century. Tracing industrial slaughterhouse history in Brooklyn is difficult, but I managed to dig up an undetailed map of a section of Bushwick that notated the location of five old slaughterhouses. So my first sow was pasted on the wall of a once 1910’s-50’s abattoir.
Since then I’ve come to the idea that these woodcuts should be pasted on or near the present day “live poultry” slaughterhouses that exist around my neighborhood and further out in Queens. My Body is Mine has grown from a historically sad and forgotten place to one that I feel viscerally, their voices clearly heard as I paste. I ponder the question posed by a fellow artist and friend, "what makes for a grievable life?" My intention is to acknowledge the beingness and presence of each inmate. It is an insufficient protest, one that can never set them free, each of them will die violently because their bodies are viewed as consumable. But I do it as a way of bearing witness to their anonymous suffering and death. Each time I paste a woodcut on an outside wall I take a picture. Within days the woodcut has been shredded off.
My Body Is Mine