Our daily bread is the result of efforts that are made in very dissimilar worlds – worlds to which we as consumers often have no access for various reasons. If we are lucky, we see the pig in the field and then the schnitzel vacuum-packed in the supermarket. The fact that something highly significant/hefty takes place in the interim can interest or concern us to a lesser or greater degree. I, for one, am interested in both this question and in the atmosphere of all the intermediary stops where which the pig is selected, killed, taken apart, apportioned, and packed. This is doubtless the most banal of places for all those who go about their work there every day. But, for me all this occurs in the same space and time that are continuously taken away from me – in parallel worlds that allow one to enter them only through very special entrances or are visible only under the premise of a definite perception of time.
The Smithfield Market in London Farringdon is one such place where one feels that these parallel words do exist. It is one of the last big markets still functioning in the inner-city of London – other such halls, Spitalfields Market for instance, have long since been transformed into glitzy shopping malls. The Smithfield Hall was erected between 1866 and 1868 under the leadership of architect Horace Jones, quite classical as basilica with complete glass-paned clearstory. This alone is suggestive of the assumption that, in earlier days, the market action had taken place here during the daytime. Nowadays, however, the traders are already on their way home in the grey of the morning, or are in one animatedly discussing the state of their trade over a pint in one of the neighbourhood pubs. It is between 2 and 6 in the nights that the devil runs wild in this place. The public has no entry during this period, and even officially guided groups of agronomists or apprentice-butchers are allowed in only after 6 am, when the deals have already been clinched. Those who come in a bit later encounter only the cleaning staff. One can nevertheless see the halves of slaughtered pigs hanging here and there through the thick plastic ribs of the cooling curtains. The yellowish light of the emergency lamps and the crinkles in the curtains create an appearance of impressionistic pictures. But much more potent is the smell within these halls – an olfactory portrayal, as it were, of all the things that take place here – which blows, to give us an idea, a couple of chinks into the heavy cloths which divide the worlds from each anothe
First Publication: 1-11-2014