Michael Vick began as part of my Entfremdeter Tod series, but the more I pieced it together, the more I realized that Michael Vick was a project more socially and politically focused than Entfremdeter Tod's general statements about death. Michael Vick was something unique.
I began with a domestic dog skull that I had retrieved from a kill shelter. Having lost several beloved pet dogs myself, I wanted to do something special with this skull - I thought at first of evoking the nostalgia and loss of the death of a family pet, but as I considered which photographic image to use, I suddenly found myself looking through a nude set I had done with a pin-up model. I normally never would have considered such a juxtaposition, but I trusted my artistic instinct, and watched Michael Vick come together before my eyes.
As a loving pet owner, I feel nothing but anger towards the people who use such empathetic and eager-to-please animals in dog fights. It's a reprehensible act that often only suits to mortally injure animals in the name of wagers and bets. However, there are people who grow weak when presented with an opportunity to amass money, and the glamour and glory of being a dog fighting champion is what drew Michael Vick's namesake to this task.
The pin up model quickly became a representation of everything I loathe about how we objectify the things that we should really care for. Pin-up models are women marketted as attractive objects; whose photos are collected, traded, followed and liked, all based on appearances, and not on inherent value as a human being. The objectification that happens to man's best friend when put in a fighting ring is quite similar: both dog and pin-up model are disregarded as full beings and seen only for a select few traits which serve the purpose of making someone money instead.
When I first finished Michael Vick, it was mounted on a tree plaque, and it accompanied my Entfremdeter Tod series in a RAW NYC event. The revelation that Michael Vick was different than all my other pieces has prompted me to re-frame him though in a more suiting red plush and black baroque mount. In this fashion, Michael Vick is full of the implied wealth and allure that attracts dog fighters to the industry.