Provoking introspection on conspicuous consumption in the west
In addition to being an alumni of Lakehead University, accomplished artist Elizabeth Buset is also a contract lecturer at Lakehead’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Buset’s latest exhibition, incredibly jarring and thought provoking, entitled “Swine” starts December 2, 2016 at 12:00PM, with an opening reception at 7:30 PM.
Alistair MacKay from the Thunder Bay Art Gallery offered the following comments to The Argus, “Elizabeth is another in a long line spanning many years of individual exhibitions by LU Visual Arts graduates staged at the Gallery, all of whom first participated in the annual Lakehead University Student exhibitions.” The following is taken from Elizabeth’s statements on theag.ca.
For centuries pigs have symbolized vice, gluttony, greed and shameless squalor. The term swine specifically denotes domesticated pigs raised for commercial meat production. With an estimated population and slaughter rate exceeding one billion annually, pigs are one of the most prevalent mammals and meat sources on the globe. Intrigued by this complex duality of being both the consumer and the consumed, Swine explores pigs as metaphors for mass consumption. Anchoring the exhibition are five large paintings of commercially decapitated pig heads dressed in disposable dollar store items. These realistically rendered satirical social portraits attempt to reveal the idiocy and egocentricity of the androgynous white consumer. Collective Guilt, comprised of over 100 plastic pig masks addresses issues of factory farming, individualism and culpability, while as Greedy as a pig plays on the concept of “saving” as both financial and emancipatory.
Similar to electricity, capitalism is an invisible system that mobilizes every facet of modern civilization. If every purchase is a vote, we as consumers have unanimously elected individual whims over global sustainability. Every day we consciously and continuously contribute to the decay of our planet by consuming non-essential, frivolous, single serving shit. Coffee creamers, bendable straws, plastic bags, chewing gum, bottled water, gift wrap, cotton balls, computer paper, mustard packets, rubber gloves, air fresheners, disposable forks, paper towels, individually wrapped plastic forks. Ultimately Swine is an acknowledgement of guilt and melancholy that ensues. It is the realization that my personal legacy will not be the art I make, but the garbage I generate and the resources I knowingly deplete.
– Elizabeth Buset, Artist