Swan Lake

Mandeep Dillon

Industrial animal agriculture has ensured that farmed animals have become ‘de-animalised’ and are little more than a unit of production, a thing to be traded and no different from an inanimate widget. Caged hens are an extreme manifestation of our fractured relationship with nature. This collage is a digital amalgamation of different images of battery farms. The hens are kept in relative darkness, all facing a central aisle, the space is reminiscent of a theatre or auditorium. The hens appear to be watching a show, the sorrow of Swan Lake. The dying swan, Odette, was an apt addition to the scene: with the pathos of the dancer comes the sublime, which emphasises the misery of the conditions in which the hens live.

About the Artist

Mandeep Dillon

Mandeep Dillon lives and works in London, UK. She completed an MA from the Royal College of Art in 2019 and was awarded the Madame Tussauds Fine Art Prize and has been featured as ‘one to watch’ in State/F22 Magazine.


She received a distinction for her MA dissertation which used the chicken to deconstruct anthropocentrism, depicting the chicken as a microcosm of our fractured relationship with our animal food systems and our non-human animal companions. Before her time at the RCA, Mandeep worked as an artist for several years and had a previous career as a documentary producer and director making programmes about environmental issues, international development and conflict. She is based at VO Studios on Marylebone Road.