Curated by Nadia Kurd
Artist Talk: Thursday, February 9 at 7:30 pm
Swine – the very word conjures images of greed, filth and dishonesty. This speaks to not only the potent symbolic meanings of the term but also to the contradictory understanding of pigs as a species: we understand them to be human-like, intelligent and social creatures; however they are also consumed and factory farmed to create a number of both edible and non-edible products. In her solo exhibition also titled Swine, artist Elizabeth Buset examines the symbolic meaning of this animal and the social implications of consumerist culture in North America. Buset’s large-scale realist paintings and installation challenges the viewer to consider their lifestyles and daily habits that, much like the subject matter, can often be contradictory and sometimes self-defeating. For Buset, the exhibition presents an uncomfortable “acknowledgement of guilt and melancholy that ensues. It is the realization that my personal legacy will not be the art I make, but the garbage I generate and the resources I knowingly deplete.” The discomfort presented in the exhibition not only lingers throughout, but fundamentally compels audiences to question and rethink their everyday actions.
– Nadia Kurd, Curator
For centuries pigs have symbolized vice, gluttony, greed and shameless squalor. The term swine specifically denotes domesticated pigs raised for commercial meat production. With an estimated population and slaughter rate exceeding one billion annually, pigs are one of the most prevalent mammals and meat sources on the globe. Intrigued by this complex duality of being both the consumer and the consumed, Swine explores pigs as metaphors for mass consumption. Anchoring the exhibition are five large paintings of commercially decapitated pig heads dressed in disposable dollar store items. These realistically rendered satirical social portraits attempt to reveal the idiocy and egocentricity of the androgynous white consumer. Collective Guilt, comprised of over 100 plastic pig masks addresses issues of factory farming, individualism and culpability, while as Greedy as a pig plays on the concept of “saving” as both financial and emancipatory.
Similar to electricity, capitalism is an invisible system that mobilizes every facet of modern civilization. If every purchase is a vote, we as consumers have unanimously elected individual whims over global sustainability. Every day we consciously and continuously contribute to the decay of our planet by consuming non-essential, frivolous, single serving shit. Coffee creamers, bendable straws, plastic bags, chewing gum, bottled water, gift wrap, cotton balls, computer paper, mustard packets, rubber gloves, air fresheners, disposable forks, paper towels, individually wrapped plastic forks. Ultimately Swine is an acknowledgement of guilt and melancholy that ensues. It is the realization that my personal legacy will not be the art I make, but the garbage I generate and the resources I knowingly deplete.
– Elizabeth Buset, Artist
Elizabeth Buset acknowledges support from