The Abattoir 2016

Mortality has been an ongoing interest in my work. In 2007, I made return visits to an abattoir in Lanark County to document the process of slaughtering pigs, goats and cows. I photographed the animals in the holding areas, their slaughter and butchering. It was a deeply moving experience and as might be expected, the resulting photographs and video footage are extremely graphic and difficult to look at. So much so, that for years I have been struggling with how to present them in a way that conveys something of the depth and veracity of the experience while avoiding documentary pitfalls like shock, alienation, sensationalism or desensitization that might ensue from the presentation of the raw photographs.

Recently, I began working with the imagery, removing the animals, workers and most of their surroundings so that all that is left are the patterns and traces left by the blood that covered bodies, floors and walls. Nothing is altered only removed and the photographs still maintain a connection to the reality that existed in front of the camera but now become painting like. They now invite a level of aesthetic engagement and reflection not conceivable with the raw imagery but still connected to the horror of the slaughter.