Alcampo

Photographic Sculpture
2012
01 | Piggly Wiggly Canyon, 22x31x4.5cm, La Boqueria, Barcelona
02 | Red Worm Hollow, 17.5x21x4.5cm, La Boqueria, Barcelona
03 | Butcher Bobs Garden, 18x25x4.5cm, La Boqueria, Barcelona
04 | Green Valley, 23.5×16.5×4.5cm
05 | Eagle Nest, 17.5x25x4.5cm
06 | Alcampo

Alcampo

Photographic Sculpture

2012

Pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl, conservation matboard, adhesives. Hand cut and assembled. Series of nine, different sizes.

«Alcampo» is the suggestive brand name of a leading supermarket chain in Spain. Roughly translated, it means into the countryside. In view of my project, it took the significance of a geographical name, reflecting the cultural values of a society increasingly disconnected from nature. Just like my previous project «FAO 77» and the posterior «Happy Hunting Grounds», this series of nine photographic sculptures addresses the environmental impacts of food production and consumption. In search for suitable motifs, thus, I wandered the discounter’s meat and poultry department on multiple occasions. The old days of traditional farming have passed. Animals raised for food are no longer grazing under wide open skies. Large-scale industrial agriculture has rendered the creatures almost invisible by moving them indoors, depriving them of any freedom to roam. At the same time factory farming swallows entire landscapes by turning green fields into industrial sheds as well as polluting air, water and soil. After a lifetime of routine confinement – whether in pens, crates, or cages – disposable food trays become the final enclosure to accommodate and display beef, pork and poultry, once processed and ready to hit the shelves. To some extent, these sealed containers become a reflection of the sheds that dominate farming today and the aesthetics of modern agricultural landscape.

On green valleys and grassy patches

With this in mind, «Alcampo» combines pictures taken at the local supermarket with site topographies of real places across the United States. The USGS National Geologic Map Database is one of the most comprehensive resources and inspirational sources for my work. On this occasion, I first searched the database for toponyms bearing a relation to the pictures taken. Far from arbitrarily pairing form and content, I then identified the most suitable from among the given maps to sculpt the photographs’ bodies. Just as the supermarket’s brand name and overall title of my project, each place name or subtitle becomes a slogan to allegedly convey the corresponding landscape’s inherent natural beauty. But instead of aesthetically pleasing landscapes, we gaze at their tragic and perverted parodies that expose the uncomfortable reality of modern food production and consumption.

Modern lifestyle has deprived us of meaningful contact with wildlife and our natural environment. Luckily though, the fresh meat sections of our supermarkets give home to a vast array of amazing creatures and are arguably one of the best places for close-up observation. Since present-day vacuum sealing techniques allow us to keep a safe distance from the animals, they won’t do us any harm.

Photos Boqueria: ©Pierpaolo Sarra
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