Concentrate. Confine. Commodify.
Concentrate. Confine. Commodify. is the next step in my interest in the factory farming of animals generally and chickens specifically. In this installation, each appendage represents an animal reaching out of their confinement to the outside world. The boxes are based on the size of actual cages, and the number of appendages based on the industrial practices of the majority of producers. While the flailing and reaching legs and wings imply a factory farm, the bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling, the yellow tape on the floor, and the shipping and quality control codes on the crates all speak to a warehouse. In this installation I have combined these two parts of the industrial chain. The boxes are both battery cage and shipping crate, speaking to the commodification of living animals on such a scale that they cease to be living in the general public’s mind. They are always just eggs or meat shipped to the store ready to buy.
My intention is that the visual impact of so many legs and wings will be a touch overwhelming. On one side of the gallery the crates/cages are in a continuous line; when standing near the pieces, they take up your peripheral vision, giving the impression they go on forever. On the opposite wall they are stacked vertically and horizontally giving the impression that the entire wall is nothing but cages.
In these gridded and linear formats, there is a very strong reference to the Minimalist Art of Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Sol LeWitt, and others. The clean, consistent boxes hanging on the walls, in both a line and a grid, are a nod to many of the 1960’s and 70’s untitled, autonomous cubes and stacked forms displayed in an otherwise empty gallery space. While I nod to them, I also disrupt them visually, breaking the clean lines of the boxes with the appendages. The disruption continues conceptually by removing their autonomy and making them a part of a narrative.
Overall this work plays on two levels: one of visual esthetics and one of conceptual challenge. This installation does the job of weaving these visual and conceptual references together to ask a question involving a part of human behavior and human nature, which is both absurd and unacceptable: why do we destroy life without thought or consideration? This is all too present today in the interactions between different groups of people and between humans and other forms of life. This installation considers one manifestation of these larger problems, and encourages the viewer to consider them, and our treatment of life in general.