THE MILKMAIDSClick here for Dutch

2021 - 41,9 x 59,4 cm - India ink on paper
Proud farmer Fred, holding up a carton of the milk he produces, in the background his ‘ladies’ lined up to give milk. The lady on the right mooing loudly, and a lot of ladies looking at the spectator, just like curious cows would do. So, what is it we see here? Is it a funny picture? A satire maybe? For me, it is a picture of absurdity. Meant to be funny on one side, but with some serious questions behind it as well.

Both cows and women are mother animals, both give milk - what is the difference? If a woman has to give birth to babies for as long as she can, the babies in turn taken away from her, if she is hooked on a milking machine for all her ‘useful’ life, and when she is elderly and doesn’t produce enough, becomes a piece of ‘momma’ on your plate, it suddenly is a sad thing. Looking at these inactive, dependent human mothers makes you feel that they must have a more meaningful way to spend their lives.

Consuming milk in itself is not a bad thing, we have been doing so for thousands of years. Only now it has become a purely economic process where farmer, consumer and supermarket are walking around in an unbreakable circle and the cow turned from a cow into a producer or even a product. Birth and giving milk are precious, natural processes that shouldn't be exploited this way. We don't have to stop consuming, but we could do it more consciously. We might consider consuming less, but good milk, and take alternatives to milk from time to time. So that in turn for their milk, we can give these mothers the best and longest life possible.

Hint for on your smartphone: zoom in!

Want to take a closer look at farmer Fred and his girls? Watch the video below!