The Death of Animated Meat (completed)
Nowhere is the detachment from death as evident as in the case of meat. While meat becomes steadily more present as a commodity in the everyday lives of consumers, ‘animated meat’ – the kind that comes with a reminder of its animal origins – disappears.
About the project
In previous times to eat meat was to eat death. One postponed one’s own death by purposefully and ritually bringing about the death of another creature. In our time, we have become embarrassed by this fact, and depend on various mechanisms to conceal it. On the one hand, we rely on the physical detachment from the sites of animal production that industrial agriculture demands. The meat eater’s knowledge of the material animal is made economically superfluous and practically irrelevant. On the other hand, we have been freed from the imperative of meat’s perishability by innovations in refrigeration, processing, and packaging, and this enables stretching the period between the time of an animal’s death to the time of its consumption almost indefinitely. Simultaneously technology and modern medicine is stretching human lives from being consumed by death, thus alienating us on two levels.
In this project, we study these processes as they present themselves in everyday artifacts. We ask how concealment of animals’ death resembles and differs from our need to conceal our own death, and whether the longing for eternal youth that permeates contemporary Western culture fills the same need as the denial of animals’ death?
Forskningsrådet for Kultur og Kommunikation, Danmark