Photographer Alex Van Gelder shot these portraits in a slaughterhouse in Benin, West Africa.

African butchers don’t use electric saws as Europeans do but cut up the meat by hand which produces a variety of styles.

Shot at the open air market, some of the meat is still pink, not entirely dead. On view at Hauser & Wirth in London.

Van Gelder photographs raw meat and entrails, either as he finds it in the marketplace, or after arranging it into contorted compositions, as if staged for a formal portrait. Sinewy ligaments are stretched against planes of taught, semi-transparent flesh, ripped, sagging muscles hang loosely and knuckles and faeces jut and spurt from between incisions in the animals’ skin.

That’s a beautiful way to describe actual shit. Van Gelder also did a beautiful portrait series of Louise Bourgeois’s veiny hands. That meat is also dead now. “Meat Portraits,” Alex Van Gelder, Jan 10 – Feb 8, Hauser & Wirth, London (Images Courtesy Hauser & Wirth)