DAY 343: THE DIRTY FACE OF SPANISH PIG FARMING
If there is one theme to this year it is this: to connect
If there is one aspect of intensive farming that makes it so powerful it is this: it is hidden from view
If there one way to relate to animals it is by meeting their eyes.
If there is one thing I ask of you it is – to keep looking.
For all you may read about the horrors of intensive farming, the grisly facts and figures, there is nothing so powerful – or transformative – as meeting a pig face to face that is stuck in a shit-filled dark shed with no light and little space to move.
As a photographer I spend a lot of time focusing on subjects’ eyes. Look this way please. Yet an animal’s gaze that can be even more powerful than a human’s. Partly because they have no words – the eyes are our way in – and partly because they don’t know how to lie. The eyes are our point of connection.
The above pig – and those below – were photographed on my first day in Spain, inside a small hut planted anonymously on a hot, dry hillside. My intention with these is not to take pictures that shock, rather pictures that communicate something of the emotional experience of being an animal in an intensive farm. It is the eyes.
My goal is to go undercover into as many intensive pig farms as I can and already I’ve managed to get into one farm as a supposed reporter and two others with the help of an informed and experienced local. I cannot mention his name, so we might as well call him Manuel and assume he is vastly tall or perhaps really really small. Maybe with bright blue hair. Whatever your imagination wants.
Catalonia (Catalunya) – the heart of Spanish intensive pig farming
I am in Catalonia, the beautiful territory around Barcelona in the North East of Spain that slides down from the Pyrenees towards the sea. Summer refuses to leave – the earth is dry and the heat rises off the tarmac yet the sprawling hills are also rich with trees and long grass.
But in those hills are many small secrets.
This area is home to a vast number of small intensive pig farms that are dotted around the countryside and to the untrained eye appear as nothing other than quaint farm buildings. Inside they are hot and cramped and festering with thousands upon thousands of lives that pass year-in year-out without ever touching natural soil or grass.
My contact – did I call him Manuel? – has been into these places before. He is a vegan. He is young. He is more morally developed than me. Of this I am sure.
We sit down in the morning and plan our day.
Will we get busted? Will they make me try some sweaty ham?
Read on…and more importantly keep looking.