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The Dead Boar (2023).jpg

The Dead Boar
oil on two canvases
227 × 162 cm


The Dead Boar represents the encounter with a dead young boar that was hit by a car and fell into a ditch. Looking at a dead wild animal involves grief but also curiosity as it allows us to observe the animal closely. The boar symbolises the bidirectional relation between humans and wild animals, as it is one of the rare animals that attempts to fight back when hunted by humans, as depicted in the story of the mythological figure of Adonis who died after being wounded by a boar while hunting. It is also a political figure revealing the modern history of the relation of humans to their environment. The omnipresence of boars in Europe is man-made and recent. Fifty years ago, it was relatively rare to encounter a boar in the countryside. The status of boars changed with the agricultural policies of land consolidation that destroyed the bocage, hedges, embankments, ponds and trees and the increasing use of pesticides, which led to the progressive disappearance of small hunted animals like rabbits, hares, partridges and pheasants and thus to the decline of hunting (« Sangliers, géographies d'un animal politique », 2022). Deprived of their quarry, hunting organisations supported the growth of the boar population to create a new target for hunters. But the boar population started to thrive and humans began to fight against what they saw as an invasion of their human territory. From a noble quarry that used to be valued for its symbolic mythological meaning, boars have become the target of human hatred because they destroy crops, private properties, disturb the road traffic and carry diseases that can harm pork farming. The fate of boars reveals metaphorically the self-deception of humans who deny their responsibility in their heavy destructive transformation of the environment.

Beyond the division that is made between humans and animals, the paradoxical movement between acceptance and rejection revealed by the political dimension of the boar recalls the way humans who are in a position of domination relate to their fellow humans who suffer from poverty and wars that were shaped by colonialism. European countries reject and control migrants who reach their territories for a better future while their economic systems are dependent on the migrants’ working force. In this sense, rethinking our relations to animals can challenge more generally our sense of humanism.

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