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Happy Hunting Grounds

Photographic Sculpture
01 | Carrot Cascade, 75×17.5x4cm
02 | Hummingbird Sanctuary, 17.5x75x4cm
03 | Crystal Waterhole, 17.5x75x4cm
04 | Fishhawk Falls, 25×52.5x4cm
05 | Royal Greens, 17.5x50x4cm
06 | Worm Branch, 35x25x4cm

Happy Hunting Grounds

Photographic Sculpture


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

Did you ever wander through the meat section of your local supermarket and imagine all those individually wrapped wings, breast and legs, those pale ribs, chops and guts blending into a bestiary of bizarre creatures that, packed with steroids, growth hormones and antibiotics, may eventually come back to life? – «Happy Hunting Grounds» is the last of three projects centered around supermarket food trays. It completes the trilogy initiated in 2011 with «FAO 77» and continued with «Alcampo» three years later. Since then, roving through the local supermarkets in search of prey had become a daily activity for me. One day, I stumbled upon freshly sliced meats wrapped up in quirky red and white checkered foam trays. Seriously? A single use supermarket food tray blending traditional wicker basket and classic country style tablecloth? I had just certainly found the ultimate canvas to create another series of photographic sculptures on modern food production and consumption! The happy hunting ground is believed to be the name given to the concept of the afterlife by several of the great plains Native American tribes. It is an afterlife conceived of as a paradise in which hunting is plentiful and game unlimited. Inspired by this idea, the project revives animals slaughtered for human consumption by portraying them chasing food. Each scene unfolds in an Arcadian landscape sculpted after existing sites across the United States. Once again, the toponyms not only serve as the artwork’s titles, but also evoke images, relationships and metaphors. The gingham-patterned meat trays serve as leitmotiv and convey the atmosphere of a fairy tale setting.

On fur and feathers

While I bought the ingredients for my previous two projects in the supermarket, this time I went to the market. Here, you can still see poultry and small game hanging in the shopfronts and get foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Among others, I purchased a whole rabbit, unprocessed with its fur, and a partridge in feather. The latter, however, didn’t make it into the «Happy Hunting Grounds».

After the photo shoot I did not want to simply dispose of the carcasses. So in order to prepare the animals for cooking, I had to do the skinning and gutting myself. Plucking the partridge and pulling off the rabbit’s fur seemed to take forever. I had plenty of time to contemplate the sublime beauty of the small creatures, as well as to marvel at their textures and colors. Only then did I realize that modern food industry has turned these beings into genuine caricatures.

Some children have never seen or touched a real cow in their life, but are perfectly familiar with fingers, patties, meatballs or even Mickey Mouse shaped minced meat. Most people have no idea where their food comes from and most likely don’t even think about it. Humans were once successful hunters, but just as we domesticated pigs, sheep, and cattle, we tamed ourselves. Insensitive to fur and feathers, we prefer the cold touch of styrofoam and cellophane instead. But if we do not even notice them, how can we possibly give the animals the respect they deserve?

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