I was on YouTube the other day and couldn’t help but notice that one of the “suggested videos” for me was “Tattooed Pigs.” While I’m not sure why I was suggested such a video (maybe my frequent searches for bacon recipes and Hello Kitty tattoos), I couldn’t help but watch it. To my fascination, the video showed contemporary Belgian artist, Wim Delvoye, tattooing shaved pigs in Beijing, China.
Originally from Belgium, Delvoye is a neo-conceptual artist most known for his unconventional and often shocking creations. Take for example his “shit machine” named Cloaca, which essentially recreates the digestive process and turns food into well. . . poop. In addition to creating poop machines, Delvoye has also pursued the art of pig tattooing. He initially started by tattooing the skin of pigs he obtained from slaughterhouses and later on transitioned to tattooing live pigs. He reasons that by placing small drawings onto the pigs and letting the animals grow, he essentially increases the pigs’ value both physically and economically.
In order to tattoo a pig, Delvoye says that they “sedate it, shave it and apply Vaseline to its skin.” Sounds pretty simple huh? Delvoye focuses many of his tattoo designs on Disney characters, but his drawings also include the Louis Vuitton monograms and Baroque art with holy virgins. It’s not often that we see pigs walking around with Disney princesses tattooed to them.
After establishing a reputation for his work in China, Delvoye moved there to set up a couple of pig farms dedicated to pursuing his passion for pig tattooing. According to Delvoye, the farms consist of “a farm manager, people who care for the pigs, a professional fly swatter, four female tattoo artists, a skinner and a tanner. It’s all very costly.” However, he certainly makes up for his production costs because his work can go for nearly £106,000 or around $138,569. His work has appeared in various art exhibitions in Beijing and Shanghai.
While pigs, Disney characters, and tattoos don’t typically go together, Delvoye definitely knows how to make a pig look gangster. Check out the video showing these pigs getting inked!