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 three within walking distance of my apartment. These urban farmed animal slaughterhouses hold and slaughter chickens, turkeys, rabbits, pigeons, quail, ducks, guinea hens, lambs, sheep, goats, young cows and bulls and pigs. 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 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...
                                                        ~~~
   I conceived of this art project as an eco-feminist protest that aligns feminism with animal defense. The message "my body is mine" is carved into a woodcut of an animal silhouette.The starkness of the message resonates with me on multiple levels while situated within the entangled intersections of animal advocacy and feminism. One might take for granted the privliged right to your own body, yet bodies are also sites of unspeakable brutality and oppression through racism, sexism and speciesism..
Farmed animals are denied even the most basic form of consciousness: that of sentience, thier lives are utterly eraced so that thier bodies can be manufactured into meat, or ravaged for eggs and dairy products. Female farmed animals, in particular, are victims of a lifetime of rape without consideration.
                                                     ~~~
   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 slaughterhouse history in Brooklyn is difficult; so I asked an elderly man that has lived in the area all of his life if he knew the whereabouts of some of the first industrial-sized slaughterhouses of East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He told me about several that existed not far from my studio along Johnson Avenue and 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 pasting was 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 the present day “live poultry” slaughterhouses that exist around my neighborhood and further out in Queens. The My Body is Mine project 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 the inmates. It is an insufficient protest, one that can never set them free. 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. I don’t know how many people take notice of the woodcuts, and if they do, do they think about the message?



* I used the feminine pronoun in the first paragraph as a way to streamline the narrative, most of the animals in the industry are in fact female, as male farmed animals are exterminated at birth or killed as babies. However, it's not uncommon to find cockerels, young bulls and rams for sale in these establishments.


 

My Body Is Mine
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine woodcut on slaughterhouse
My Body is Mine: Duck
2017
woodcut on slaughterhouse

Brooklyn, NY
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine Photograph
Street view
2017
Photograph

Brooklyn, NY

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine woodcut
Rabbit: My Body is Mine
2017
woodcut

Pasted on top of the existing murals of a slaughterhouse, Brooklyn, NY.
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Duck

detail

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine Woodcut
Hen: My Body is Mine
2017
Woodcut
18" x 19"

Pasted on top of the existing murals of a slaughterhouse, Brooklyn, NY.
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine woodcut
Sow: My Body is Mine
2017
woodcut

pasted on wall of former slaughterhouse, Brooklyn NY
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine Woodcut
Sow: My Body is Mine
2016
Woodcut
22" x 37"

Pasted on the wall of a former abattoir, Brooklyn, NY.

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine woodcut
Hen: My Body is Mine
2017
woodcut

Pasted on site of slaughterhouse, Brooklyn, NY
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Hen

Detail

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine Woodcut
Lamb: My Body is Mine
2017
Woodcut
24" x 26"

Pasted on Lamb and Veal distributor, Brooklyn NY
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Lamb

Detail
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine Woodcut
Lamb: My Body is Mine (shredded)
2017
Woodcut

Detail

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Hen

Detail
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