“These industrial environments are so desensitizing in that you, even if you are an animal lover, become complacently accepting of the fact that the live beings are only raw materials for mass commodity production. This needs some serious questioning.”
These are some of the thoughts of New York Based artist Miru Kim in relation to her latest series “The Pig That Therefore I Am”. Bringing us face to face with the harsh, inhumane industrial environment of modern, large scale pig farming, Kim explores the experience of coming close to these pigs who are treated as “product”.
Commenting on the physiological closeness between pigs and humans that makes them, for instance, candidates for use in xenotransplantation, Kim explores her ability to get close to these pigs through skin to skin contact. Much like lovers feel an intimate sense of connectedness when lying skin to skin, so Kim tries to explore this experience with pigs – lifting them out of their commodity status in the farm to a position of intimacy. “When two bodies come in contact–each of them touching and being touched at the same time–the souls meet and interweave on the skin, and the subject and the object become one.”
Maybe the pig farm is a mere illustration of our modern relationship with ‘nature’ or all of that which is not human. The transformation of ‘nature’ to commodity is not limited to farm animals but extends to almost every aspect of the natural world – from national parks and wilderness areas that are products for tourist consumption or for the accumulation of scientific knowledge, to the very commoditization of the word ‘natural’ that comes splattered on every product packaged in a green plastic bottle.
Our relationship with and dependence on nature is there for all to see. But maybe in an industrialized, technological world with an ever growing human population, it is inevitable that nature becomes industrialized. Kim’s work reminds us that sometimes it may be worth spending time exploring any residual deeper connection we might have with the non-human.