A controversial Belgian contemporary artist who wows critics with his work at home in Europe also runs a peculiar operation in China – tattooing pigs.

Wim Delvoye, whose work graced the modern art wing of Brussels’ prestigious Palais des Beaux Arts as recently as last month, has established his own ‘art farm’ where he tattoos on the backs of live pigs.

The farm – 90 minutes outside Beijing in a remote village – has been operating for a couple of years, complete with a staff of Chinese and international inkers as well as caretakers for the pigs.

All kinds of designs are tattooed on the pigs’ backs, from roses to Louis Vuitton logos to religious imagery.

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Delvoye, seen above at the gates of the farm, first came to international prominence with a bizarre machine called a Cloaca that can manufacture feces. He is also the creator of ‘Anal Kiss’, a depiction of a human anus on canvas.

As for the farm, the opinion of animal welfare groups is unclear, but Delvoye undoubtedly faces fewer restrictions upon the treatment of live animals in China than in Europe.

And he doesn’t stop at live pigs either. He also tattoos pig hides, and has even painted stuffed pigs.  This cheery fellow below, stuffed and tattooed in 2004, goes by the name of Slobodan.

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For his part, Delvoye sees nothing wrong with the practice. He claims the pigs barely notice the tattooing, and are unaware they have been tattooed afterwards.

He also says that he believes pigs are a close relation to humans. Closer, he says, than most humans would be willing to admit.

Decide for yourself after watching this British TV news footage of the farm.

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