Miru Kim – The Pig That Therefore I Am

Miru Kim –

The Pig That Therefore I Am

If you find yourself in New York anytime soon, head to the DOOSAN gallery. This month they present a debut exhibition from the Korean artist Miru Kim with her latest photography series, The Pig That Therefore I Am. Miru Kim is known for her previous series entitled Naked City Spleen, for which she explored various urban ruins such as abandoned factories, tunnels, sewers, and catacombs in different cities around the world. This time her new work addresses the relationship between humans and animals by examining pigs and their uncanny similarity to humans. She literally assimilates her own body amongst pigs that are raised in large-scale industrial meat production.



The first part of the series focuses on the skin and its ideological importance. Large photographs titled and numbered as “Compositions” display lines and textures created by her own body parts in contact with those of a live pig. The exhibition includes her writings that combine scientific, historical and poetic narratives. Inspired by the contemporary French philosopher Michel Serres and certain aspects of ancient Eastern philosophy, she claims that the skin is an important mingling point of the inner body and the world, and that the soul and body cannot be separated. She also critiques the conventional idea that animals lack the soul.

“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.” The traditional dualistic thought in the Western world completely dissociated body and soul from one another. As a result, animals were regarded as complex, organic machines, because they lacked the soul and could not operate the mind. Renée Descartes, who notoriously stated, “I think, therefore I am,” also came up with the idea that animals are “automata or moving machines” because “they are destitute of reason.” Animals have been exploited as workers, food, or exotic spectacles for centuries. However, the 17th century model of animals as machines has been remarkably surpassed in the last century: animals as profit-generating raw materials for commodity production in mass quantities.

The second part of the show relates to her interest in how the animal production has changed drastically only in the last century, although animal domestication has occurred more than ten thousand years ago. She brings sharp attention to the rarely seen interiors of massive industrial farms by inserting herself amongst the animals. Momentarily becoming one of the pigs, she explores and expands her own human identity. She writes of her experiences in the hog farms: “Listening carefully to the cacophony of echoing squeals and groans over a loud, mechanical hum, I unlatched the powder-coated steel door, discolored to sickly beige and mottled with yellowish brown. As soon as the door swung open, hundreds of startled pigs jumped to their feet in unison with deep grunts and ran away from the fences, which in turn frightened me. I walked along the corridor of the standard-sized barn containing about twenty- four hundred hogs. Soon they came back up to the fence and started to poke their noses in curiosity. They had seen a new visitor and proceeded to examine her. 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.”

– Taken from the press release. Interview coming soon.



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