Tattooing Swine in the Name of Art
PHOTOS COURTESY OF WIM DELVOYE
rtist Wim Delvoye is into giving tattoos to pigs. (No point in trying to figure out a fancy way to say it, really. The guy tattoos pigs.) Due to laws that say it’s all right to punch pigs in the head with bolt pistols and then cook and eat them by the thousand but not all right to ink a smiling marlin on the odd swine, Delvoye has had to buy a plot of land in China to farm his “organic art.” When the pigs die, they are either stuffed and mounted on a plaque or their skin is stretched over canvas and preserved. Start saving up for one today!
Wim: I started tattooing pig hides, which I’d get from the slaughterhouses, in 1994. It was only in 1997 that I started to work on live sedated pigs. I tattoo pigs because they grow fast and they are so much better to tattoo than fish. I tattoo them when they are young and I like the way the artwork stretches and distorts over time. Essentially, we invest in small tattoos and we harvest large paintings.
Have you ever tattooed a person?
Yes, of course. I have tattooed art critics, art dealers and art collectors, and lots of butts. I come across my needlework everywhere I go. Some designs I try for the first time on people and, if they work, I will surely re-create the tattoo on a pig.
To the close observer your work is laden with contradictions. For example, aren’t you a vegetarian?
Yes, I am a vegetarian. I am also very, very clean. I wash my hands like 100 times a day.
You can see more of Wim’s work at wimdelvoye.be
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