I’ve seen a lot of strange sights in NYC but, until I visited the ADAA (Art Dealers Association of America) Art Show this week, I’d never seen a tattooed pig. I know what you’re thinking — how unsophisticated is this guy anyway? But it’s true. A tattooed pig is something I’d never seen before, not even in photos, and now I was confronted with one at the Art Show. (By the way, you can visit the ADAA Art Show this whole week and for $25 see this pig and other works of art and the admission price goes to benefit the Henry Street Settlement. My wife told me to say this….seems there’s no escaping flacks, not even in my own home!!)
It looked unsettlingly real so I did a bit of research. It turns out the tattooed pigs are the brainchild of Wim Delvoye, a 43-year-old Belgian conceptual artist who happens to be a vegetarian! And you guessed it, he’s trying to make a statement by breeding pigs for aesthetic reasons and not for our tables. His pigs are tattooed while they’re piglets and the tattoos are added and amplified as they grow. He’s even exhibited live pigs with tattoos in China.
But be assured, he says, these little piggies are given the utmost in good care.
His distinction is that, instead of heading for our breakfast table, his pigs are headed for art galleries and private collections. Some are stuffed, others are sold for their decorative hides.
Does this strike you as odd? It does for a lot of people who take offense to the pigs being tattooed against their will. On the other hand, is it better that we slaughter pigs for our food?
This may not be rational but I do feel sorry for the poor tattooed pigs. It’s one thing if you want to display an eagle across your back but the pigs can’t object to bad taste on the part of their human masters. I’ll take my pigs in the form of bacon, thank you. Tattooed pigs need not apply.