Emerging photographer Leah Netsky offers a symbolic look at order and mass-production in Meat Stacks, which features hundreds of meticulously arranged images of lunch meats that have been stacked, folded, hole-punched, sewn and subjected to other processes. While the content is visceral, Netsky’s playful photographs dazzle on an abstract visual level, setting up a tension between formal presentation and the content it packages. In Sewn, Netsky uses a thin colorful thread to neatly sew wedges of thickly sliced pink bologna into a stack, emphasizing their perfectly geometrical appearance. The Grid consists of one hundred unique squares of meat precisely arranged into a grid; an ode to the careful packaging and mass-produced nature of both the medium and subject at hand. Aside from illuminating the processed nature of these food products, Netsky’s photographs encourage us to expand our notion of objects as limited to their function in society.
As humans, we are driven to make order out of the natural world around us. Nature is visceral, wild, and threatening to our sense of control and composure. We gravitate towards convenience, often compromising the quality of food products for quantity and the ease of an extended shelf-life. With the growing abundance of processed foods, we are quickly losing touch with where our food comes from and how much “food” it actually contains. The perfectly circular sheets of bologna, neatly sealed in plastic casing and marketed by the Food Industry as “Lunch Meat”, are so removed from their natural form that all traces of the animal from which they originated have been eliminated, along with most of their nutrients and health benefits. These pre-packaged sandwich meats allow the consumer to avoid the gory reality of preparing and eating an animal, enabling easy and guilt-free consumption.
Leah Netsky was the recipient of the 2011 Merry Moor Winnett Art Scholarship in Photography at Guilford College. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Photography in 2012. While attending Guilford, she served as Art Editor for the literary magazine, The Greenleaf Review. Netsky has exhibited work in several cities, including Chicago, Boston, and Denver, and has several online publications. She currently works at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.