The Enlightenment acquainted us with the divineness of our natural world.
Our post-industrial, post-modern, post-feminist, post-society takes the
same stance but this time with irony instead of worship, or is it the
worship of irony? Cows and cow connotations represent many things to many
people - they are man-made entities, domestic food sources, carbon dioxide
producing polluters of the planet, docile money-making products, unflappable,
implacable, mute, watchful, grounded stand-ins for the feminine. They
are a bastion of calm in our supercharged society. Cows have piqued the
imagination of many artists ranging from cave paintings, sacred Hindu
paintings of cows, to late 19th Century European landscape painters, the
lush Hudson River Valley school of the United States and 20th Century
pop-icons Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst.
Adam Smith spoke of the "wealth of nations", using the metaphor of the
single pin for the division of labor. Similarly using this "low" material
to speak to "lofty" issues, Berk puts pins into these pleasant pastoral
scenes, both poking holes and punctuating our love of nature and our notions
of idealistic normalcy. These steel pins, commonly used in sewing, reference
woman's work as well as acupuncture and voodoo. These shiny soldiers serve
to ornament and illuminate the all-mighty cow, all the while sticking
pins into forced/fake simplicity.