My Body is Mine project.

According to the New York Farm Animal Save there are over 80 “Live Animal” businesses in the NYC five boroughs area. There are three within walking distance of my apartment. These urban farmed animal establishments’ house and slaughter chickens, rabbits, pigeons, quail, ducks, lambs, sheep, goats, young cows and bulls and pigs. As one walks closer to the vicinity of a live animal business, a noxious mix of blood, urine, feces and death penetrates the air. Walk through the door, and one will see rows of cages stacked on top of each other, lining all sides of the walls. The animals are stuffed in the cages huddling together with a pale disquieting tense awareness. Men in long plastic aprons and rubber boots preside over the inmates. When a customer comes to purchase one of the animals; the man roughly grabs the frightened animal out of the cage to the alarm of her cage mates and carries her by feet or hind legs, wings flapping, bodies’ writhing-crying out. She is bound and weighed and then killed within minutes. The customer is handed a plastic shopping bag that contains a warm dead body. 

 My original art project was to carve silhouetted woodcut images of  animal beings that are condemned as meat with the message “my body is mine” inside the silhouette. The simplicity of the message resonates for me on multiple levels while situated within the intersections of animal activism and feminism. My first woodcut, a sow, was pasted on an abandoned abattoir where great numbers of animals were slaughtered around the turn of the 20th century. Looking for slaughterhouse history can be sketchy and difficult to trace. Word of mouth proved to be more reliable so I asked an older man that runs a used bookstore who's lived in the area all of his life about the slaughterhouses of Brooklyn. He told me about several that existed not far from my studio along Johnson Ave. I managed to dig up an undetailed map of a section of Bushwick that notated the location of five old slaughterhouses. So my first sow pasting was on the wall of a 1910’s-50’s abattoir.

Since then I’ve come to the idea that these woodcuts should be pasted on the present day “live animal” slaughterhouses that exist around my neighborhood and further out in Queens. The My Body is Mine project has grown from a historically sad and forgotten place to one that I feel viscerally, their voices clearly heard as I paste. The intention of the project is to acknowledge the Beingness and Presence of the inmates. It is an insufficient protest, one that can never set them free. But I do it as a way of bearing witness to their anonymous suffering and death. Each time I paste a woodcut on an outside wall I take a picture. Within days the woodcut has been shredded off. I don’t know how many people take notice of the woodcuts, and if they do, do they think about the message?

My Body Is Mine
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine woodcut
Rabbit: My Body is Mine
2017
woodcut

Pasted on top of the existing murals of a slaughterhouse, Brooklyn, NY.
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine woodcut
Duck: My Body is Mine
2017
woodcut

Pasted on top of the existing murals of a slaughterhouse, Brooklyn, NY.

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Duck

detail
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine woodcut
Sow: My Body is Mine
2017
woodcut

pasted on wall of former slaughterhouse, Brooklyn NY

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Sow

detail
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine woodcut
Hen: My Body is Mine
2017
woodcut

Pasted on site of slaughterhouse, Brooklyn, NY
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Hen

Detail

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine Woodcut
Lamb: My Body is Mine
2017
Woodcut
24" x 26"

Pasted on Lamb and Veal distributor, Brooklyn NY
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Lamb

Detail

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine Woodcut
Lamb: My Body is Mine (shredded)
2017
Woodcut

Detail
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine Woodcut
Sow: My Body is Mine
2016
Woodcut
22" x 37"

Pasted on the wall of a former abattoir, Brooklyn, NY.
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Sow

Detail

Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine Woodcut
Hen: My Body is Mine
2017
Woodcut
18" x 19"

Pasted on top of the existing murals of a slaughterhouse, Brooklyn, NY.
Janell O'Rourke My Body Is Mine
Hen

Detail

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