Nobody likes to see how the sausage—or really, any kind of processed meat product—gets made. Recently a Chinese factory that supplies McDonald’s and other chains made headlines when a video revealing workers’ unhygienic handling of meat surfaced. It posed an important question that most people would rather not dwell on: What are we really eating?
That inspired Hong Kong–based artist Peter Augustus’ Mystery Meat, a series of photographs that replaces familiar cuts of meat in classic American foods with the animal parts they come from.
“It is not meant to be repulsive,” Augustus said in an email. Instead, he intended to highlight the disconnect Western societies have with the food they eat and to spur the debate around the fillers and hormones used in meat.
Originally from Dallas, the artist became fascinated with Hong Kong’s meat shops, where pig heads, intestines, and eyeballs openly hang on hooks.
“As a foreigner from a major city in the West, most of us seldom see anything that even closely represents what kind of animals we are eating when we purchase it,” Augustus said. “It is always prepackaged, nice and neat, showcased in an air-conditioned supermarket.”
After finding a friendly butcher to help him with the project (“She thought it was funny”), Augustus shot the photographs using lighting and background that bring to mind the typical American diner or cafeteria.
“I hope the viewer takes into account what the natural form of their food looks like,” he said.
Click through for the Mystery Meat series, and see more of Augustus’ work here.