After all that modern artists have done, you might think that nothing would be more shocking. After seeing Jeff Koons make statues of celebrities giving birth and Damien Hirst slicing up sharks. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Wim Delvoye and his controversial art of tattooing pigs.
Delvoye first began tattooing pigs in Belgium (where he is actually from) around 1992, at that time he inked dead pigs only. By 1997, he decided to explore the concept further. Thinking of the pigs as living “piggy banks”, that is to say as investments, he began to tattoo designs on live pigs. The animals are sedated first, and then shaved and tattooed all like a human being.
In 2004, Delvoye rented a farm in China, where he wouldn’t be hindered by prohibitive animal welfare laws and established his Art Farm project. Pigs are tattooed when they are young and the designs change and grow as the pig grows. Interested art buyers can purchase a pig, although Delvoye has noted that none of them have actually taken their pigs home to live with them. Some buyers have waited until the pigs dies of old age to have the skins turned into art, but others have preferred that the pigs be slaughtered and the skin stretched and framed. Delvoye has also exhibited some of the tattooed pigs as fully stuffed and taxidermied statues, sitting as he puts it “like a stone lion outside a Chinese restaurant.”