Fire of Eternal Glory

Fire of Eternal Glory (2009)

  Music: Fire of Eternal Glory | Dimitri Shostakovich

Porus is a rural community located in the parish of Manchester along the lower middle part of the island (Jamaica); quite close to a place called Mandeville. The area is mainly known for its production of bauxite but nothing much else really goes on in Porus –not even FM radio stations unless you string about 200 coat hangers together and lash it to your roof.

In Porus, Friday’s are typically marked as the day to kill animals for market. At that time the slaughterhouse is busiest and there is an inspector posted at the location from 6 am. People who need animals slaughtered will arrive throughout the day and the process goes on until about noon with anywhere from 30 to 40 animals including pigs, goats and cows slaughtered.

The actual killing is done by very select few since the practice often involves large animals that can become very dangerous if they are stuck wrong. A large angry pig, for instance, can easily kill a man so the trade is a learned and precise one. Only two men at the market I photographed did any killing at all and they did it with great efficiency and skill. Once dead, other workers will take the animal away to be cleaned and carved up before being inspected by a local official and sent to market to be sold. Most of the animals are sold locally but sometimes the meat is packed and sent off to locations across the island although I was told that’s rare since most parishes have their own slaughterhouses.

I had always had the idea to photograph the market because it was simply interesting to me and so when I was told of the market by a friend, I drove there from Kingston early one morning and set up in front of the slaughterhouse. What I found there far exceeded my expectations.

The side of the building actually looked like a painting to me and the sun rose right in front of it so everything including the colour of the mud on the walls to the amazingly bright blood seemed amplified. Everything was sharp—literally. Although I thought I was going to be made queasy by all the gore, I found the experience to be very much the opposite as I watched people work with confidence and non-chalance amidst the splashing blood and the squeals and the vivid ending of lives.

At the core it was simply a vision of life and death in an age old practice that is necessary in order to feed people. - PDR