Truth and the Cow (2006)

Advert in the Isle of Thanet Gazette
Photo by Steve Hopper
Photo by Steve Hopper
Photo by Alexa Kent, Intrigue Photography

Truth and the Cow explores issues of government tracking and control – in cattle. Beginning with the fact that all cows in the UK must have a registered passport (detailing their date of birth, breed and movements), Emma pokes fun at a society that may know more about the whereabouts of its cattle than of its people.

Linked to this, Emma also draws on a family anecdote surrounding her parents’ wedding, at which photographs were taken covertly by a wildlife photographer. Unbeknownst to the couple, the bride’s mother hired this photographer to document the wedding from a safe distance. The resulting photographs now form the main documentary evidence of this day.

Emma hired a local wildlife photographer ostensibly to document the activities of a cow (actually the artist herself, in a fancy dress cow outfit). In displaying this work, she plays on the viewer’s sense of reality; with work that is so obviously about deception and spying, can the viewer really trust anything she says?

Below is an audio recording of Emma’s phone conversation with the wildlife photograper, Steve Hopper. Characters played by Victor Cova and Juliette King.


Truth and the Cow was presented at gallery IOTA in Ramsgate as part of Emma’s residency with Lydia Bevan