View of the exhibition in 2006 at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin Miami (U.S.A.)
Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin is pleased to present an exhibition of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye?s tattooed pigskins. Delvoye has been tattooing pigs since the 1990s, and in 2004, he set up the Art Farm, establishing his presence in China. Delvoye explains, "The idea for Art Farm is not only to produce art but to harvest art, for me it's the beginning of making art pieces that are developed in a very biological way." While the tattoos themselves do not contain specific messages, Delvoye says that, as pigs increase in size, the tattoos stretch and fade?a visual reminder of human dreams and wishes that have faded. Delvoye uses the art of tattooing as a means of critiquing human desire and ambitions.
The pigs on the Art Farm are sedated before they get tattooed and are gently raised until their natural deaths; usually well past six months, when most farm pigs are slaughtered. Collectors can buy the pigs live and pay for their keep as "foster parents" or purchase tattooed skins of pigs that had passed. "The Art Farm is a real enterprise and by selling, eventually, the skins, the whole thing gets financed and I can go on," said Delvoye, who has pushed other artistic boundaries with previous works.
When the pigs complete their life cycle, their skins will be canvases that remind the audience of the dreams that once were important enough to be engraved on the skin. The stretched pigskins are like raw canvases, each one possessing an original tattoo such as, hearts, skulls, anchors, swords, eagles, and a woman's name?reminiscent of Harley Davidson motorcycle gangs. Mortality is a primary theme in the pigskins. "Tattoos remind you of death. It's leaving something permanent on something non-permanent," says Delvoye. "Even when tattooing flowers, there is a morbid side to the activity."
Delvoye has continued to astonish the art world with works that test the conventional limits of art for more than fifteen years. He has gone beyond art's traditional mediums, incorporating technology, biology, and an understanding of today's market economy and culture into the scope of his art, in the process creating masterpieces such as ?Cloaca,? a machine that produces real feces; ?Caterpillar,? a sculptural imitation of a construction excavator intricately carved from corten steel and perforated with Gothic filigree; and ?Marble Floors,? photographs of meticulously cut salami, chorizo, mortadella and ham, arranged in geometric patterns based on Italian Baroque and Islamic motifs.