Trophies Remain: The history of New Zealand resource extraction and the Meat Fence photo-project

Document Type

Journal Article



Place of Publication

United Kingdom


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)




Marshall, J. W. (2017). The history of New Zealand and the Meat Fence photo-project. Performance Research, 22(8), 86-98. Available here.


Rebecca Schneider insists that performances ‘remain’, but they ‘remains differently’, often through ambiguous corporeality. This article presents Meat Fence (2011), a series of photographs by Justin Spiers on which I collaborated. It documents over 400 pig hides located outside the township of Macrae's Flat, South Island New Zealand. Recalling a porcine Stations of the Cross, these trophies are hung along a piercing, flagellating barbed wire fence by hunters who are protecting their farms, engaging in recreation, and harvesting game. Macrae's is the last site within New Zealand from which significant quantities of gold are extracted, once driving national prosperity before being surpassed by agriculture. These porcine signs embedded within the landscape encapsulate New Zealand's history of resource extraction, colonial approaches to land, human/animal relations, the contribution of such factors to nationalism—and what is leftover. Drawing on Gotthold Lessing's essay on suffering and art, I propose that the sacrificial porcine victim dramatizes the violence of resource extraction, confusing boundaries between animate and inanimate, the landscape versus that which rests or preys upon it, between wild and domestic. Like Pentheus in The Bacchae, pigs have been ‘torn limb from limb, / And through the interweaving forest … / Scattered’, before their heads and skins are hung out for all to see. Where once they ‘ramped and gloried’, now they are ‘Tossed with rent ribs or limbs of cloven tread./And flesh upon the branches, and a red/rain from the deep green pines’ falls across the land—not only in those marginal spaces left over in New Zealand's drive for prosperity and national identity, but at all those landscapes where resources are violently harvested. Meat Fence asks the viewer to listen for the pig's groan which continues to emerge



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