Souls of God (Get Back to Us) and Slaughterhouse

January 13th to February 24th, 2011
Artist Talk : TBA
Opening Reception : Thursday, January 13th at 7PM

Souls of God (Get Back to Us) and Slaughterhouse
Juan Luis Zavaleta
Originally from Mexico, now living in Brandon, Manitoba

A provocative installation in the main gallery.

Modern meat processing plants exist to maximize the efficiency of the transportation, slaughtering, and processing of food animals. Often these mega-slaughterhouses kill huge numbers of animals in volumes the ordinary person would have problems imagining. The conditions under which these massive deaths are accomplished are geared only to processing the highest numbers possible with little regard to humane practices. From 2002 to 2004, Juan Luis Zavaleta worked at a mega pork plant in Brandon, Manitoba, and was witness to this fact. Working on the kill floor, Zavaleta saw ten thousand hogs slaughtered every single day in an amazingly efficient production line. As an artist, he took advantage of this bleak day job to develop a body of work that brings to public attention the immoral way these animals are killed, bled to death, and dismembered. Zavaleta wants to break down the separation between meat products ready for consumption in the supermarket and the manner in which they are raised and processed.

Despite the high sanitary control, the act of killing and dismembering such a number of hogs every day is bloody, and blood is everywhere during a shift, covering workers’ uniforms and faces. In his work, Zavaleta presents us with physical evidence of massive death. His work deals with violence, cruelty, and the consumer-driven practice of meat processing. It is a dramatic reminder of the way the world’s industrialization has heightened peoples’ arrogance and ignorance, establishing a separation between animal and human being. For this installation, Zavaleta installs real uniforms used during shifts at the plant. Through blood spatters, prints and marks on uniforms, and paper towel, Zavaleta will affront viewers with the reality of where their perfectly packaged meat comes from at large retail supermarkets.

As a worker at the Maple Leaf Pork Plant in Brandon, Manitoba, Zavaleta ended up loosing his health, both physically and mentally, resulting in a deep depression and permanent injuries. As an artist this intense experience also proved to be one of his most inspirational.

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