My latest series of photos are very much influenced by Mark Ryden. His photo exhibition from 1997 has intrigued me for nearly fifteen years. “The Meat Show” evokes strong feelings. Often times I find myself perplexed by his images. They are disturbing and beautiful, all at once.
Ryden’s cartoonish paintings often depict small children, meat, as well as religious images. The combination of all of these subjects continues to amuse me. They are darkly satirical. They speak volumes about certain aspects of American culture. The photos I’ve taken in Ecuador tell a different story. The photograph above was taken in a small town roughly sixty miles south of Guayaquil, near the coast of Ecuador. I was traveling in a van, which had slowed down due to traffic on a dusty road. Beaten motorcycles sped past in a flurry as several heavyset women carrying sacks of maíz hobbled across the street. The scent of carne wafted through the humid coastal town. Large metal hooks hung from bodega storefronts. Chunks of vermilion red meat and various sausages hung from the giant hooks, evoking an authenticity I rarely see back in the states. Mesmerized by the sight of all of the meat, I took the photo.
The remaining photos were taken during my first trip to Ecuador, back in August. I took the photos in a large market south of the city where I spent my days volunteering with a local volunteer agency. Towards the end of my day, I wandered around the enormous market and marveled at the two hundred or so local vendors selling anything from fresh avocados to pig intestines. Large sacks of various beans and endless wheelbarrows overflowing with every kind of fruit imaginable. Giant slabs of meat glistened on blood stained countertops. Of all the things at the market, the meat intrigued me the most. I found the lack of sleek packaging and hormone injected meat very appealing. The absence of any kind of regulation was both refreshing and jarring. I decided on the day that these photos were taken that I was going to take more photos of meat. Meat! This continues to be an ongoing project….