It’s not that “I think, therefore I am,” but rather, “I am, therefore I feel.”
No doubt about it, Miru Kim’s series The Pig that Therefore I Am, is not an easy read.
Perhaps it might be easier to think of Kim as an animal rights activist, creating a statement about our treatment of livestock, as she sacrifices for the rights of those we eat. In fact, she is not.
And of course, it is easy to be repulsed by the thought of lying amongst the saliva, feces and bodies of swine; animals with a filthy reputation. Instead, Kim experiences the pigs in unexpected ways. She says:
“Pig eyes are remarkable. They see right into the eyes of a human being. When they were looking at me, exposed before them, surrounded by them, I could not read their gazes, but they were somehow shockingly familiar. There was no language to bridge that disparity – the mysterious gap between the gaze of a pig and that of mine. But when I mingled with them with my skin, the gap momentarily closed in, as if I had forgotten my own language. My words were lost, and I felt the swinish grunts resonate inside me.”
“In the afternoon, they all take a nap, and I lie down amongst them, my head next to theirs.”
“As I lay down next to a sow weighing five hundred pounds, I felt the warmth travel from the soft underbelly of the animal into my bare right thigh. Two bodies mingled momentarily, in the skin on skin contact.”
“I could no longer reason whether I was feeling the pig’s abdomen on my thigh, or the pig was feeling my thigh on her abdomen. The line between the subject and the object were obscured, and two souls mingled on the plane of contact.”
“Through the sensations of skin on skin, living bodies in the external world are formed, in relation to the self. When two bodies come in contact – each of them touching and being touched at the same time – the souls meet and interweave on the skin, and the subject and the object become one.”
Kim’s naked journey proves more than a stunt, the effect deeper than the manure lagoons she navigates. She connects to the shared humanity of living, breathing flesh, and shares with us a secret that we might not wish to see, but are compelled to understand.
Images: Peter Domorak for the NYTimes; Miru Kim
Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her personal blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.