For this holiday edition of the Punk Rock Gospel, an Easter ham…
Written By Dia VanGunten
Art by Ferg Cooper
Leading Piggy Lives
When I spotted that police cruiser tucked back from the road, I tried to alert the driver. I sang out in an exaggerated British accent, in a tone of ominous dread –
“Around the world, there’s lots of piggies, leading piggy lives. You can see them out to dinner with their piggy wives.
Clutching forks and knives!
TO EAT THE BACON!”
I mimed the dining swine and pounded the dash with tight fists – a vice grip on my imaginary cutlery. The driver took me for a fan of The White Album, just belting a classic rock favorite, so he didn’t hit the brakes. Is this not the universal alert system? My father would’ve avoided that ticket, certainly, because I’ve used it since childhood. Back then, I imagined the pigs wore little piggy badges on their little piggy uniforms. I felt quite cheeky, having deduced the secret adult meaning behind this childlike Beatles tune.
Now I am one of those adults – one of the oinking piggies – and I realize that it was literally a song about pigs.
Capitalism. Consumerism. Cannibalism.
We’re in the teeth, gears grinding, but the wheel keeps turning. We’re living from paycheck to paycheck, intake to outtake, like the most basic model of Deleuzian desire machine. But what of these brains? These hands?
We’re sucking our opposable thumbs, or they’re up our bums, or both.
“What a good boy am I,” we say, though cornered.
John: Its about capitalism
Paul: It’s about love
George: It’s about the inner chakra
Ringo: It’s about Pigs
Humanity is an ancient tragedy in a marble theater, doomed by hubris and myopic greed, but billionaires are building rockets. and we all laughed at the dick memes. What else are we supposed to do with this unsettling sci fi feeling?
The uber wealthy are spending rocket money on an escape hatch.
They could invest in planetary recovery or develop ecological technologies that might slow global warming, but they’d rather start over without us. They believe they’ve EARNED the right to ruin this planet and leave the rest of us in flames.
They imagine Mars as a utopia for their genetically superior offspring.
They hoard wealth and plot lift off, yet we glorify them and invest in them. Heck, we even make them president. It must be aspirational. We don’t tear the palace down, brick by brick, because we expect to someday sit the throne. We burn through fossil fuels because it’s fine. We’re gonna work hard, impress our bosses, invent the hot dog, win the lotto, make a splash.
We’re gonna strike oil, hit it big and buy our own rockets.
Survival of the richest.
Put a fork in us, we’re done. The system is chewing our soft animal flesh. And us artists? We’re that tasty layer of back fat. We’re the tender porkbelly. So we’re the first to go. They cut us from the budget and drive us from our cities. They think we are expendable, which is ironic because they’d be lost without us. No movies, music or soap operas. No pretty packaging on their latest purchase. No cool cars or cute outfits. No architecture. Artists have even helped them win their wars.
Art is deeply intrinsic to human existence, going back to cave paintings, infiltrating every aspect of modern life, but it’s viewed as an extra. Art is the glass of water that oughta come free with the meal. Artists are an unlimited basket of bread sticks. There’s no such thing as magical elves that come at night, making shoes while the cobbler snoozes. We know this because we are up at that hour, polishing leather, nailing soles and adjusting insteps.
We know our own labor, but do we know our own power?
I don’t advocate violence. We’re softhearted creatives who crave a better world. Many of us are disabled, so we’re not out there rabble rousing and tearing the palace down. But ya know what we can do? We can make them bloody nervous. Art isn’t meant to match mum’s sofa. We’re the trickster coyote with our dick out, pissing on that couch, and sometimes that’s Paul McCartney writing a song about pigs or Ferg Cooper showing queer desire in full color or Tehching Hsieh in a self-imposed cage.
What of Mapplethorpe’s BDSM explorations or Serrano’s Piss Christ? How ’bout Milo Moire’s vaginal eggs? I say yes, and so we’re looking to speak to an “extreme” artist. We were approached by one who wore pig masks made from real pigs, which skeeved me to my core, while exposing my hypocrisy, and so I briefly entertained the idea. But when our writers did their due diligence, they fell into a rabbit hole of pornography, making it more of a product.
But isn’t The White Album for sale?
Whether art sells or doesn’t, whether the artist is starving or rich as the Beatles, it has to offer something more. It must contain an intangible spark that reminds us who we are. Human potential. Fairy magic. Even if art is deep in the shit, mucking about with the pigs, it should convince us that we are capable of better – if only because it reminds us that we are makers.
About Ferg Cooper
Ferg Cooper is a visual artist working primarily in paint and collage. His work is rooted in queer theory and deals with themes of commercialism in relation to the self. Specifically, ways we use social media to communicate and how we cope with a constant bombardment of visual information. Many of his works use imagery inspired by strangers’ posts, or models discovered online. Ferg graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2017 with an MA in Fine Art. He has participated in residencies including the Florence Trust and ‘Plop’. He joined the inaugural panel of Artcry, a fund giving fast answers on funding for political work, and has mentored for NPA Labs. Ferg has exhibited with several galleries across London and the UK, including Tate Exchange, Menier Gallery, San Mei, Mall Galleries, and Islington Arts Factory. He has worked with several collectives including Bad Art Presents and Raw Art Forum,and made commissions for The Unicorn Theatre and Artcry, as well as designs for club nights and record sleeves. He is currently based at Koppel Project Bank.