I'm a fine art photographer living in Hamilton, Ontario. Most of my work to date has, in one way or another, revolved around creepy photography of dead things. In my work I'm broadly interested in exploring the ethics of eating animals, the subversion of religiously iconography, and women's reproductive rights.
Meat as Art
I loved the truth. Even in just this one thing:
looking straight at the terrible,
one-side accord we make with the living of this world.
-Ellen Bass (full poem here)
Like most of us, I was raised with a bucolic image of life on a farm: cows grazing green pastures while chickens scramble about the barn and pigs wallow lazily in mud pits. This image, however pleasant, is a fantasy that exists only in children’s books, and on the graphics that adorn processed food packages. The reality is that contemporary factory farms rely on cruelty and torture on an industrial scale. Most of the animals we consume will have lived lives of intense suffering: confined in windowless sheds, densely-packed into cages where the spread of disease and parasites is rampant, fed additive-laced foods that bear little resemblance to a natural diet, and subject to various surgical mutilations.
It is all too easy to forget about the cruelty and suffering that underlies the animal products we interact with daily, through our meals, clothes, and furniture. My work on the commodification of animal suffering focuses on meat products that are intended for human consumption; I buy everything that I work with at the butcher. My aim is to present these food products in an unfamiliar context, where the ugliness and cruelty of the industrialized farming system becomes manifest. I have three galleries exploring this theme: Inside (a gallery of focused stacked macro photography that looks at animal organs from an intimate, up close perspetive), Still (a gallery of still life arrangements of dead animal parts, loosely styled after Goya, Caravaggio, and other classical still life painters), and Accord (a gallery of portraiture exploring our relationship with animal products).
Empire of Death
I could write a treatise on the sudden transformation of life into archeology.
- Zbigniew Herbert
Empire of Death is my most recent project: a gallery that catalogues my portraiture of the dead, shot in the catacombs of Paris. The title of this project derives from the warning that is carved in stone at the entrance of the ossuary: "Arrète! C'est ici l'empire de la morte."
The catacombs began as a network of old caves, quarries, and tunnels that stretch for hundreds of miles far beneath the bustling streets of Paris. In 1786 they were blessed and consecrated by the church, and used to house corpses from the overpopulated and overflowing Parisian cemetery Les Innocents, many of which had been improperly buried in open graves leading to concerns over the strong odour of rotting flesh and the spread of disease. In 1810 the catacombs were renovated to the form they take today: monumental tablets and archways were added, and the skulls and femurs of the dead where stacked along the walls into various decorative patterns.