Vitality Imprisoned Conceptual Photography
Study Abroad 2022
When I was 16 years old, I started working with cows because I was interested in animals and wanted the experience of farm work in my hometown. I milked cows and later helped raise baby cattle. Growing them, to take from them. They lived and slept in metal-framed pens and walked on cement packed with their shit. I don't think I ever saw one roam free.
I have been a meat and dairy eater my entire life. I became vegetarian for a year after working with cattle. I was bothered by how they lived, what they were given to eat, and how it smelled when 500 of them were packed in pens in the hot summer. This was the beginning of my understanding of the global phenomenon of meat overconsumption.
I arrived at the Burren on 9-02-22. Immediately my eyes were drawn to the massive green acreage with free roaming cattle. The cattle ate less processed food and had room to graze and sleep. I was intrigued by this more delicate way of farming, and the way the cows interacted with a natural environment; I had to capture them. I sat with them, observing, and being observed.
Regardless of free roaming cattle or cattle locked in pens, they are raised to be eaten; to make a mass pay check. What was a cow before we incarcerated them and tagged them with numbers? Mass consumption is dictated by convenience, resulting in a disregard for the natural environment, our bodies, and our future. Vitality imprisoned is just the beginning to my deeper knowledge of our global phenomenon. Being a meat eater, someone who has milked cows and fed their offspring powdered milk, someone who sat with them in pursuit of a deeper understanding, I know there is a problem.
As I continue to explore this project, I will generate more questions and research. Diving deeper into the negative environmental impacts, health damages, more ecological ways of farming, the history, our psychology of consumption and much more. I hope to seek answers and an action plan to address one of our many man-made issues.
I ask myself, what can I do now with what I’ve seen and what I’ve felt? I call your attention to one group of our prisoners, and perhaps you will remember them when you are planning your next meal. I ask you to consider how much meat you need to eat and acknowledge that our ignorance is the problem.