Kenyon Class of ’14, Studio Art and Anthropology double-major
My work aims to give the inconsumable parts of animals a new life and purpose. Unaltered, the objects I use are culturally meaningless anatomical specimens, but once manipulated they become human expressions of culture in a material form. What was once valuable only to the animal itself becomes a work of art that plays with familiar cultural signifiers and concepts. I choose to explore media obtained from the bodies of formerly sentient beings because the material inescapably lies at the intersection of attraction and repulsion, and life and death. Skin and bones convey a unique tactile and sensory expression that comes from the realization that they were once integral to sustaining an existence.
I am compelled to create work that deals with the human experience, influenced in part by my anthropology major. Past pieces of mine have examined our relation to society and the earth at large. This anthropological influence prompts me to recontextualize and critique hegemonic cultural institutions.
In Hidden, I explore the complex relationship between the consumer and the consumed. Through my research, I discovered the incredible quantity of bovine by-products hidden in the ingredients of many common household items. 98% of a cow’s body is used across industries in the manufacturing of products ranging from food to pharmaceuticals to construction. Though these companies waste very little of the livestock, the industrial agricultural complex that raises them has little regard for sustainability – they produce large quantities of methane gas and cut down rainforests. Using steel pipes and bars, I fabricated the logos of such corporations as Crayola, Downy, and Domino Sugar and literally branded their emblems into the skin of the animals they use to manufacture their signature products. The work creates a dialogue about the nature of capitalism, and the dualist relationship between waste and sustainability.
Bodies, both animal and human, do not just symbolize life and death: they internalize these literally embodied concepts. Through the manipulation of parts divorced from their original structure, I create new worlds where these anatomical constructions are able to reveal hidden cultural issues.
– Lana Dubin, ‘14