Wim Delvoye is a Belgian artist whose controversial works vary from tattooed pigs to fancy tires, gothic works, and much more interesting things.
Delvoye’s practice is defined by an ability to both to shock and intrigue. Delvoye has made x-rays of sexual acts (“Sex Rays”), tattooed live pigs, designed intricate laser-cut steel towers, and carved delicately patterned rubber tires. Despite the technical mastery he demonstrates in many of his sculpted works, Deloyve has famously proclaimed that “all art is useless.” For the work Cloaca, Delovye created a digestive machine: a complex contraption, installed in a museum gallery space, whose sole purpose was to turn food into feces.
Delvoye was born in 1965, in Wervik, Belgium, and cites the reverence of his hometown to churches and effigies of Christ as an early influence on his work. Delvoye first received critical attention with the presentation of his work Mosaic at document IX: a symmetrical display of glazed tiles featuring photographs of his own excrement.
But today we are focusing in the pigs.
In 1997, Delvoye began tattooing live pigs in Europe – a practice which was, unsurprisingly, met with widespread criticism from animal rights activists. But before that, in the 90’s, he started to tattoo the skin of dead pigs.
Using the skin of live pigs as his canvas, Delvoye shocked European audiences and angered animal rights groups across the continent. In 2004 he bought a farm in a small village outside of Beijing, where animal rights laws are practically non-existent. He systematically elaborated a new concept that he called his ‘Art Farm.’ Here, specialists look after his pigs, while the artist sedates them, shaves their skin, and tattoos them. Veterinarians treat their skin after the process to ensure that their wounds are clean and their skin is properly moisturized.
Wim explained, “I show the world works of art that are so alive, they have to be vaccinated…It lives, it moves, it will die. Everything is real.” By placing these iconic images on the pigskin, the artist takes away their commercial value. They become pure decoration – their only purpose is to shock.
Pig skins value highly in China, so Delvoye tattoos his pigs when they’re young. Buyers can choose from live or taxidermied pigs; some buyers choose to purchase the piglets and let them grow old on the farm. Others choose to purchase the pig’s skin after its death.
See also Kim Joon porcelain tattoos HERE!