Happy Hunting Grounds | 2014

Pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl, conservation matboard, adhesives. Series of six photographic relief sculptures, hand cut and assembled, 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?

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. Starting from this idea, Happy Hunting Grounds comprises a series of contemporary still lifes or animal hunting scenes that attempt to resuscitate animals processed for human consumption in a faux bucolic setting, an artificial wilderness composed of disposable food containers. The project not only critically reflects on the food industry, but also aims at bringing awareness to the current crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss.

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. Paradoxically, supermarkets might be one of the few remaining places for animal observation today, while state-of-the-art vacuum sealing techniques allow us to keep a safe distance from the creatures.

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.