Japanese artist Seaborg believes she is not human but an imperfect cyborg. This artistic statement is crucial to understanding her body of work, in which she chooses to separate herself from humankind in order to more objectively observe their cruelties, especially those that humanity has enacted on the women of their own species and those of other species within their farmlands.

Her exhibition, Livestock, at the Parco Mall in Shibuya, Tokyo, showcased this sentiment through performance and installation pieces such as Slaughterhouse and Pigpen. Both pieces show humankind’s mistreatment of female pigs on farms, which Saeborg then uses to highlight how the same mistreatment is mirrored in a patriarchal society’s discrimination of its women. 

In short, her pieces shed light on cruel farming practices that view female pigs as nothing but meat and breeding machines. She then takes her audiences into a deeper layer of meaning, critiquing the patriarchy, a place where women's roles are restricted to home-making and birthing babies. This makes her pieces relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Life on Land, Gender Equality and Zero Hunger.

Slaughterhouse-9 by Saeborg. Image courtesy of Saeborg’s website.

Saeborg works with latex as a primary medium. She uses it to create inflatable sculptures and costumes that she or other performers can wear. Saeborg finds a certain poetry in the medium. Typically, when wearing the skin-tight latex costumes she has designed, performers find that they cannot move as freely. Their movements are constrained, much like how farm animals and women’s movements are restricted in society.

Slaughterhouse-12 by Saeborg. Image courtesy of Saeborg’s website.

Her seminal piece Slaughterhouse is Saeborg’s interpretation of a countryside farm. In it, viewers will see a pig living in a small barb-wired pen and a farm girl in cute pigtails taking care of the pig. Day in and day out, the farm girl feeds and cleans the pig and without doubt, a bond forms between them. However, the bond is a macabre one since the farm girl will go on to artificially inseminate the pig, and once it has given birth, she will go on to butcher the pig and hang it with its intestines spilling out.

Pigpen by Saeborg, exhibited at the Parco Mall in Shibuya, Tokyo. Image courtesy of The COMM.

The performance ends with the farm girl stripping and making sure that the farmer’s family will have some offspring of their own. This final bow allows Saeborg to tie back her piece, which has blatantly exposed animal cruelty in farms, as a commentary against the limited roles that a patriarchal society has imposed on women.

In Pigpen, Saeborg focuses on how farms breed pigs. Animal Aid UK describes the process as being “harsh and relentless,” with sows being forcefully impregnated at just six to eight months old via artificial insemination. Saeborg reflects on this process in her piece, showcasing a large inflatable mama pig who is confined behind bars as she is inseminated, gives birth to and nurses her babies. Eventually, one by one, her babies are taken away by a farm girl to head straight to the butcher’s or to meet a fate similar to hers.

Pigpen by Saeborg, exhibited at the 6th Athens Biennale. Image courtesy of Saeborg’s website.

Saeborg’s pieces in Livestock powerfully critique inhumane farming practices and gender disparity. She allows her viewers to understand that how they choose to treat animals mirrors how they choose to treat other human beings.

Find out more about Saeborg’s Livestock and their other initiatives by checking their Instagram @saeborg_latex.

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