Playing with Food: Posing with Piglets at Dinner

Jul 12, 2011

While cleaning out his mother’s belongings, Michel Campeau, co-editor of in almost every picture #10, made an unexpected discovery—a photograph of a table full of dinner guests stroking a pig. Intrigued, Campeau placed a classified ad in a local paper looking for more information about the picture and received more than 200 responses.

Curious about this huge response, Campeau began compiling information about this mysterious photographer. He learned that the photographer was a man named Jean-Paul Cuerrier. Starting in 1938 and continuing for more than 35 years, Cuerrier photographed thousands of diners posing with pigs at the Au Lutin Qui Bouffe restaurant in Montreal. His pictures illustrate a wide range of emotional reactions: some diners feed the piglet and pull its tail, others simply appear amused at the idea that the living creature sitting on a checkered tablecloth in front of them might actually be tonight’s dinner. Men in dinner jackets and women in formal dresses are literally playing with their food.

Although no one actually knows what happened to the pigs after the photographs were taken, readers of in almost every picture #10 are reminded of humankind’s often complex relationship with what we eat. Editors Erik Kessels and Campeau highlight the generational differences between our own generation and those before us. What appears as entertainment in these photos might be frowned upon today.

Kessels points out that the piglet was part of the restaurant experience. “Guest would pick the photographs up personally at the door when leaving after their meal. So every single image ended up in someone’s private family album.”

in almost every picture #10 is published by KesselsKramer Publishing, the tenth book in a series highlighting found photography.

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