In December, a beautiful performance artist named Miru Kim took off her clothes, climbed inside a makeshift pen with two piglets, and lounged around nude for five days. Critics in town for Art Basel ate it up. It seemed like a win-win: Kim saved the pigs from a Hialeah slaughterhouse and made headlines for the Wynwood gallery Primary Flight.
But according to animal activist Ana Campos, Kim's performance had a filthy underbelly: Primary Flight ignored advice on how to care for the pigs, neglected their health, and then left them on a tiny Little Haiti farm inside a cardboard box. They didn't even donate the cash they'd promised for the pigs' care, she alleges.
"One of them had a waistline," she says. "Pigs aren't supposed to have waistlines."
Kim is unapologetic. "I am still not sure about why the animal rights activists are so upset," she writes in an email.
A month before the show, Campos asked Kim not to use the pigs. But Kim and gallery co-owner Chris Oh promised the animals would be taken to a sanctuary after Basel.
Instead, Campos alleges, they were sealed in boxes and dropped off at the one-acre Earth 'N' Us Farm at 7630 NE First Ave. on December 5. The farm's owner, Ray Chasser, says someone from Primary Flight agreed to pay him $8,000 to take care of the pigs.
But things went sour in a hurry. "One was sick when it came here," Chasser says. "It wouldn't eat, wouldn't get up." Soon both pigs began hacking. And Primary Flight never paid a dime, Chasser and Campos say.
December 19, Campos rushed to the farm after hearing of the pigs' plight. Christmas Eve, she loaded the animals into the back of her PT Cruiser and drove nine hours north to an animal sanctuary called CJ Acres. The sick pigs filled her car with shit, but Campos got them there alive.
They had pneumonia, Campos later learned. They are now on triple antibiotics but are expected to recover.
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Kim says her artistic message should be clear. "My work, I hope, brought some consciousness to the audience about how close in essence human beings are to animals."
Primary Flight co-owner BooksIIII Bischof also denies blame. "We were naive in thinking that taking these two pigs away from their deathbeds and caring for them would create a positive dialogue."
Campos says both are clueless. "This is what happens when you exploit an animal for profit."