Pâté covered in fur and feathers and liverwurst wrapped in pig skin are the socio-political objects of Dutch photographer Marloes Haarmans. She wants to literally unpack our notions of the consumption of animals and the behemoth food industries that package and sell them.
In a series she’s titled Eat on her website, Haarmans has crafted an element of the grotesque in her renditions of the popular sandwich spreads available in Netherlands supermarkets: raw beef sausage (ossenworst), rabbit pâté, pig liverwurst and duck pâté.
Haarmans, who is New York-based, tells The Creators Project, “I decided to put the meat back in the animals own skin, and return it to its source. I used the actual skin, feathers, and fur of those animals in order to create an intense experience and force the viewer to face reality. The four objects are placed in a clinical setting to evoke the unnatural aspect of the food processing industry.”
The four pieces are oddly seductive in their sterile environment. As onlookers the objects become devoid of their kitchen context and look like luxury items to fawn over. They become more like high-end consumables with textures and shapes that resemble shoes or clutches we would readily spend big money on. Yet their functionality is still the same: to be consumed. Which brings Haarmans biggest provocation close to home: What are we willing to do about the processed food we consume?
Haarman has chosen to be a vegan but Eat is meant to bring those personal questions as to what and how we consume to the surface. She says, “We tend to close our eyes to one of the biggest industries in the world, while we know that the bio industry is complicated and problematic. We don’t want to feel guilty and have to face our actual daily habits.”
The food-packaging project is successful in its attempts to reframe the way we look at the meat we eat. The project might look disgusting and vile to some or palatable and true to others. And that’s the point: by taking the meat spread out of the supermarket context, we can process the food industry as a concept, thus elevating Haarman’s attempts at conceptual art.
“I’ve always been interested in the world that exists beyond surface appearances. The dark side of society, within the things we take for granted, she says. “I want to uncover what the food industry is about, especially with concern for the consumption of animals.”
To learn more about the artist, click here.