Lipstick on a Pig: Is Heidi Hatry’s Work Art, or Animal Cruelty?

by Debbie Stoller

I’ll admit: I don’t really get modern art. And I especially don’t get Heide Hatry’s art.

Hatry is an artist who sculpts using clay and raw meat. In one series, Meat after Meat Joy (Meat Joy was a 1964 performance piece and I really don’t get the art of performance art), Hatry created an American flag out of meat, complete with maggots. Okay, fine, it lacks subtlety, but let’s assume she was going for a blunt and shocking political statement.

Heads and Tales , her newest exhibition, is a series of woman’s heads created from raw flesh, pig eyes and pig skin — powdered, rouged and wigged as you would a corpse, or a drag queen. Just right enough to make you do a double take, just wrong enough to make you queasy. While men have called us pigs and feminists decried our status as just meat for decades, Hatry has actually created that reality — making housewives from hogs.

But I’m tired of the pig analogy. I’m tired of the meat analogy. Get over it. Move on. Using meat as material might have had shock value in ’64, but with all the violence I see, we all see daily, I don’t want to be desensitized anymore than I already am — I want to be resensitized. Find a way to express yourself without treading on our greatest attribute, that women are supposed to have in spades — compassion. Animals were slaughtered to provide the raw materials for this Art. These are not slaughterhouse leftovers; Hatry’s website has photos of her skinning pigs. I’m willing to bet none of them died of old age. This is not about being or not being a vegetarian or an animal lover.  It’s no more okay to kill an animal and call it Art, than it is to hold a dog fight and call it Entertainment.

I don’t really get modern art.

Jodi Sh. Doff 

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