Animals have served as inspiration for art since the dawn of time… In spite of themselves.
The past few years, numerous artists have scandalized public opinion using animals for their work, in complete contempt of their moral and physical integrity.
Stuffed dogs, tattooed pigs, fish in blenders… These works of "modern art" based on animal sufferance are completely unnecessary.
As Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer explained in an article titled, "Animals in contemporary art: the ethical question," there are three main figures in the debate: animals who are already dead, whose bodies are exploited by the artists, those killed for the work, and finally those killed, whose agony is the center piece of the work.
Source: Taxidermy in Art
From the work of Jan Fabre, who suspended stuffed dogs in the Hermitage Museum in Russia, to Iris Schieferstein, a stylist whose morbid creations were the subject of a petition, to the number of contemporary artists who use animal skin or organs to create their exhibitions.
In 2005, Schieferstein created a pair of boots made from the hooves of a goat obtained after he was killed in a slaughterhouse. While the work was made from the remains of an animal, and therefore didn't directly cause his death, the measure caused disgust and shock.
Source: Journal du Design
Worse still, certain artists use live animals to express their "creative genius" in the name of art, which seems to forgo any moral guidelines and which bases its success on being increasingly provocative in their vulgarity.
Incontestable acts of animal cruelty, whose only objectives are to respond to the artist's egocentric needs and thirst for notoriety. What else can you call those who mistreat, unequivocally, dogs, cats or pigs and will sometimes go as far as to deliberately cause their deaths for the sake of art?
Source: Wim Delvoye
In 2007, the Costa Rican artist, Guillermo Vargas (known as Habacuc) showed a skeletal stray dog in a gallery in Nicaragua. The animal died of starvation a few hours later, while the artist decried the "hypocrisy" of public outrage since "no one cares about dogs in the streets." Revolted, an Internet petition collected more than two million signatures against the author of this despicable work.
The Belgian plasticien, Jan Fabre, found it acceptable to throw felines – consumed with stress – down a flight of stairs of the Anvers town hall building to demonstrate that a cat "will always land on his feet." Responding to the outcry afterwards, he declared that the owners of the abused cats had given their permission and that no animal was hurt.
These shameless abuses of the term modern art, which accord a huge importance to sensationalism, offer lessons on our society and its values. First of all, the fact that it's still allowed – from a legal perspective – to exploit and maim an animal in the name of art or entertainment, and that the violation of the physical integrity is still morally tolerated.
The outrage is speciesist and anthropocentrique: it depends on the species and diminishes as the animal concerned distances from man.
You can read up more about animal cruelty laws in the United States and in Canada here.
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