Sabor a Carne (Taste of Flesh)
Sabor a Carne is a sculpture series navigating the relationship of Latinx identity to poultry processing in the United States.
These works represent dedicated, intensive research of how the Latinx body is taxed through forced migration, dangerous labor, and the consumption of American chicken. At the intersection of exploitative policy and culture, one can observe a phenomenon of cannibalism. Chicken, or Pollo, an inseparable staple to Latinx cuisine for most, is equally inseparable from the unethical modes at which it is farmed and processed in mass- which heavily exploit the Latinx bodies.
The exploitation of migrant labor and systematic disenfranchisement of Latinx communities led many to work in dangerous employment such as meat processing, which compounded with the economic accessibility and cultural relevancy of chicken, positions them as producers, consumers, and the products themselves.
As one assumes these roles, what becomes of the “self?” What becomes of their relationship to the corporeal when violence is imparted and shared by the human and non-human? At what point does the taste of one’s own labor spoil? “And when did you first taste yourself in the Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs Family Pack? *Freshness guaranteed*.”
This discourse is presented through the surreal manipulation of the contemporary, historical, domestic, industrial, and corporeal. From adopting pre-Columbian aesthetics to designing imagined future architectures, Sabor a Carne posits when meat became flesh.
“Each was a hostage of relentless poverty debted to a place indiscriminate of flesh.”
“There were pieces of them, caught between the rotating paddle blades and the interior wall of the chiller- in the feather picking machine, stunner, scalders, and conveyors. They were arranged, operating, inspected, hung, and opened. He told me that before their eventual bagging, they lived in an ecosystem of disfigurement. A landscape of metal frames charged by pierced eclectic cords that sear ammonia-soaked skin. An atmosphere of peracetic acid inheriting all life with chronic asthma. Unrelenting production shifted space-time and encouraged an evolutionary response of beings who only navigated their place by bird. But no less than 40 per minute and the unavoidable loss of a favored appendage. Of what remained became welded into organic mechanics by carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and epicondylitis. So that the body could only belong to what had shaped it and foreign to everything else.”
Chilled nerves slow microbial growth, yes, yes- but could you feel your ligaments tear and bones break? When you rotated 180 degrees, did your toes greet your pelvis? How many times can you sew the same finger back on?
And when did you first taste yourself in the Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs Family Pack?
“I can only recite the generational rumors-
‘Arroz con pollo, sancocho, paella, chicarrón de pollo, mofongo de pollo, asopao de pollo, caserola de pollo, combinado con cerveza Presidente y bachata, nos reuníamos en estos platos. Eran nuestros. Pero aquí todo sabe a carne.’
“It all tastes like flesh.'”
“Forced pure cannibalism of the rumored ‘gente.’ -physical traces of oneself mechanically separated. Concern was expressed. An ecological disaster. Pandemic. Ford’s descendants refused exudative inflammation in their reserves. They demanded sterilization but quickly justified the taste. Tongues continued to push lost limbs, damaged nerves, and sanity from cheek to cheek. He could only afford to chew his elbow until finally choking on his brain.”
And what happened to you next?
“The subsequent iteration had ballpoint joints. Our latex and steel heritage.”
Sabrina’s exhibition was featured in The Cornell Daily Sun.