Super size ants
In her latest installation “Corpor Esurit, or we all deserve a break today” at Exit Art, Brooklyn artist Elizabeth Demaray is housing Pogonomyrmex badius, better known as the red harvest ant in a 6-by-10-foot plexiglass farm and feeding them a steady McDonalds-only diet for one month (Happy Meal toys included). In addition to the artist commenting “on the effects of the American diet on the creatures that depend on us for food,” the exhibit serves a greater scientific purpose: Demaray worked with Dr. Christine Johnson, a specialist in ant research at at the American Museum of Natural History.
Pogonomyrmex, or “Pogos,” as they are affectionately known in the trade, are more selective eaters. Though mostly granivores, Pogonomyrmex badius workers will sometimes patrol for dead insects and termites to bring to the colony after a desert rain.
At the gallery last week, many of the ants were dead. A few looked disoriented. This exhibit lacks a queen and brood, so the workers are leading a life devoid of its fundamental purpose.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that McDonalds didn’t sponsor this exhibit.