FE 2015

Un progetto del Comune di Reggio nell'Emilia
Comune di Reggio Emilia – Città delle persone

  • NRandall County Feedyard, Texas, 2013 © Mishka Henner
    NRandall County Feedyard, Texas, 2013 © Mishka Henner
  • Natural Buttes Oil and Gas Field, Uintah County, Utah, 2013-2014 © Mishka Henner
    Natural Buttes Oil and Gas Field, Uintah County, Utah, 2013-2014 © Mishka Henner
  • Levelland Oil Field #1, Hockley County, Texas © Mishka Henner
    Levelland Oil Field #1, Hockley County, Texas © Mishka Henner

Mishka Henner, Beef and Oil

In this series, large-scale photographic prints depict landscapes carved by industries meeting extraordinary levels of consumer demand for two of North America’s most precious commodities: beef and oil. Seen from the perspective of satellites orbiting Earth, these landscapes represent a systematic intent to maximise production and yield in order to satisfy extraordinary levels of human consumption. The result is a natural landscape transformed into something not too dissimilar from the circuit boards that drive the logistical operations of these industries, and ultimately, feed consumers’ appetites for these resources.


In the beef industry, feedlots are cattle-feeding operations used in factory farming to ‘finish off’ livestock. Almost all the beef consumed in the United States will have been finished on a feedlot: a vast empire of pens and troughs where up to 100,000 steers at a time spend the last three to six months of their short lives gaining up to 4 pounds a day on a diet of corn, protein supplements, and antibiotics. Everything on these farms is calculated to maximise the meat yield from each cow; from the mixture in cattle’s feed, to the size of run-off channels carrying the animal’s waste into giant toxic lagoons.

Oil Fields

In certain parts of the USA, the country’s unquenchable thirst for oil has altered the landscape beyond recognition. Natural features are supplanted by man-made marks and structures reflecting the complex infrastructural logic of oil exploration, extraction and distribution. Resembling the bold brush strokes of abstract expressionists, these marks are produced by the hand of an industry striving to satisfy a national and international compulsion.

“The feedlot’s ecosystem […] revolves around corn. But its food chain doesn’t end there, because the corn itself grows somewhere else, where it is implicated in a whole other set of ecological relationships. Growing the vast quantities of corn used to feed livestock in this country takes vast quantities of chemical fertiliser, which in turn takes vast quantities of oil […] So the modern feedlot is really a city floating on a sea of oil.” Michael Pollan

Mishka Henner’s works exhibited here are part of the group exhibition No Man Nature.


Exhibition curated by Elio Grazioli and Walter Guadagnini
Works by Darren AlmondEnrico BedoloRicardo CasesPierluigi FresiaStephen GillDominique Gonzalez-Foerster e Ange LecciaMishka HennerAmedeo MarteganiRichard MosseThomas RuffBatia SuterCarlo ValsecchiHelmut Völter


The approach chosen for the No Man Nature exhibit is to explore the topics of ‘nature without man’ and ‘man without nature’, suggesting a heuristic reflection flowing from two opposite extremes. These extremes no longer mean just the unexplored, the unknown, the invisible and the unimaginable, but actually imply the possibility of a world no longer inhabited by man and, at the opposite end, of man’s invention of a world no longer inhabited by nature. These possibilities can in turn be perceived as dangers: on the one hand, there is the ecological danger of the destruction of nature and the self-destruction of the human species, and on the other, there is the danger of a “technological” euphoria with the attendant isolation of the human being from the world.   And again: sometimes we yearn to live in an unspoilt and deserted natural environment, like a dream of an impossible new beginning, while at the same time we are building a world modelled entirely on the virtual and the imaginary, including a natural world that is equally virtual and imaginary.

Finally, we might argue that if things are, or are going, that way, then there must be a reason for it. Hence, our reflection on extreme cases will also be an inquiry into ‘where we are at’. The exhibit uses images in order to raise these questions, putting forward examples that will urge viewers to ask themselves what their own position is with regard to these questions.

The general idea is always to use photography not as a document and a representation in itself, but as an opportunity in terms of the questions it elicits and its thought-provoking power. The issues raised about the man-nature relationship thus also become a metaphor of the role and function of photography.


Mishka Henner is among a new generation of artists redefining the role of photography in the internet age. He has described the world as a single digital image of infinite detail, captured by an endless array of automated and manual cameras and accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Much of his work navigates through this vast digital terrain to focus on key subjects of cultural and geo-political interest. His process often involves extensive documentary research combined with the meticulous construction of imagery from materials sourced online.


Born in 1976 in Brussels, Belgium, Henner moved to the UK in 1984. He holds a Masters degree from Goldsmiths College in London and in 2013, was awarded the Infinity Award for Art by the International Center of Photography. He was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in the same year and in 2014, was on the shortlist for the Prix Pictet for his large-scale works focusing on landscapes carved by the beef and oil industries of America.


His works have featured in large historical surveys at the Centre Pompidou, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fotomuseum Winterthur and the New York Public Library. He has also participated in contemporary surveys at the McCord Musem Montreal, Les Rencontres d’Arles, and the International Center of Photography, New York.


Henner’s works are in numerous public collections including the Centre Pompidou, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the Tate Collection of Artists’ Books.


Saturday, May 16

11am_Teatro Cavallerizza
No Man Nature: Diane Dufour, Elio Grazioli and Walter Guadagnini with Enrico Bedolo, Pierluigi Fresia, Mishka Henner, Carlo Valsecchi, Helmut Völter. Book signing to follow


2pm_Palazzo da Mosto
No Man Nature: Enrico BedoloPierluigi FresiaMishka HennerCarlo ValsecchiHelmut Völter and curators answer at questions by public

exhibition venue

Palazzo da Mosto
via Mari, 7
42121 Reggio Emilia


opening hours

• during the inaugural days
05/15 › 7pm - midnight
05/16 › 10am - midnight
05/17 › 10am - midnight
• from May 22 to July 26 the exhibits are open from friday to sunday
Friday › 4pm-11pm
Saturday › 10am-11pm
Sunday and holidays › 10am-8pm


Palazzo da Mosto