Author Topic: Misdirected efforts of animal-rights activists?  (Read 934 times)

Tom Rad

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Misdirected efforts of animal-rights activists?
« on: February 04, 2004, 12:05:24 PM »
A few animal rights groups, including PETA and ALF have expressed disgust and horror at the work of the New Zealand artist Francis Upritchard, who is currently exhibiting as an artist in residence at the Camden Arts Centre. Her work at the centre includes an exhibit of “shrunken monkey heads constructed from secondhand fur coats”. She has previously caused an uproar by describing in an interview (see here) how she once, while in art college, practiced taxidermy on the family cat which her brother had killed (with a shovel!) to make the animal into a piece of art.

Here is an article from the Guardian about what she has to say for herself:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,1127429,00.html

Now, I am not sure I really want to defend her as an artist - some of the stuff I have read about her does sound rather wanky and I haven’t actually seen her work or even any good pictures of it to be able to say what the actual merits of her work are - or if there really are any. But I am really wondering if PETA and other animal rights groups and activists are misdirecting their efforts in protesting against the use of second-hand fur (sourced from charity shops) in art which, according to the artist, is not intended to glamorise fur or encourage people to wear it:

Quote
Look, I'm making these to look as bad as possible, as badly made as possible - I'm not glamorising them. Taxidermy aims to make things look as lifelike as possible, whereas I'm interested in a critique of taxidermy, making things look as dead and pathetic as possible. --- When I recycle fur, no money goes back into the process of creating fur; it's outside of that economic vicious circle and - unlike catwalk models wearing fur - completely outside of encouragement.


You might say I am a person who is in a somewhat unique position to comment on animal rights and the fur trade. I am very concerned about the treatment of animals and their rights as sentient beings and thus I have been a vegan for almost 8 years. I wouldn’t call myself an animal rights activist - I am more of a “passivist” as my efforts are mainly concentrated at the level of consumer boycott rather than demonstrations or direct action. That is, I do not financially support the industry that is built on animal suffering by refusing to buy and consume (as far as is possible) any animal products, products whose manufacture has involved cruelty to animals, and, to as great an extent as practical, products manufactured by companies whose activities involve cruelty to animals. However, I have not always been on this side of the argument. My parents are fur farmers and I grew up thinking that it was perfectly alright to keep animals in what I now consider atrocious conditions before killing them for their fur. I used to wear fur hats and collars and when I was little I remember playing with dead foxes that were waiting to be skinned. (Needless to say, my current opinions have caused some “tension” in the family...) My point being, I don’t object to cruelty to animals just because they are cute and cuddly - due to my upbringing I don’t tend to see animals in this way (apart from cats, that is...). I object to animal cruelty on ethical and moral grounds, because I believe it is fundamentally wrong to cause needless suffering to another sentient being.

So here is what I feel about this artist’s work and animal rights:

1) I would be concerned over the cruelty caused to the family cat by her brother who disposed of the tom by hitting it on the head with a shovel - in the interview the artist says she doesn’t know and seemingly doesn’t care if the cat had died instantaneously. So I am worried this was not the most humane way of putting down an animal when there were alternatives available. I would under no circumstances condone the killing of any animals for the sole purpose of creating art, but as far as I understand, the cat here needed to be put down anyway.

2) I believe that at face value, exhibiting work made from parts of animals which are importantly sourced from second-hand shops and not bought new or in some other way commissioned, can potentially act as a comment on the wrongness of killing animals simply for their fur. As I say, I haven’t seen her work, so I am not sure how well her work really communicates this idea. Incidentally, I have been to animal rights demonstrations where fur coats from charity shops were carried in coffins. The point that was being made in these demos was surely the same as could be being made by this artist?

3) On the other hand, I do think that art made from animal parts or art that involves the killing of animals could act as a positive encouragement of objectifying animals, seeing them as a commodity that can be used by humans for whatever purpose we deem fit, be it clothes, furnishings or art. The potential confusion that can arise then is of course whether a particular piece of art belongs to this category or the one in 2).

4) I think animal rights groups may be diluting their message by their objections to this artist’s work. I think the focus should be on preventing animals from being seen as a commodity and from being treated cruelly. The reason why one should object to the use of animal products is not that they are dead things and that disgusting things like skinning or gouging out of eyes is done to them before they are presented to the consumer. It should be that the animal has suffered needlessly during its life.

Well, that’s my opinion anyway. I fully expect either to get flamed to fuck on this or see this thread drop like a lead balloon.

So there.

Misdirected efforts of animal-rights activists?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2004, 12:11:50 PM »
i'd like to see animals to be eaten being treated as humanely as possible. i'm not against testing on animals for medical reasons, but i can't abide testing for cosmetic, fashions etc, l'oreal and colgate palmolove among others should be burned to the ground.

some guys in my office have just been having an argument about fox hunting and the general sway seems to be the constant debate is distracting from other, worse insatnces of cruelty to animals that no-one seems to pick up on because they're not causes celebres

Bogey

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Misdirected efforts of animal-rights activists?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2004, 12:17:31 PM »
My mum lives in the country.
She keeps some hens in the garden.
She treats them like fucking children.
Why is it wrong to eat their eggs?

gazzyk1ns

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Misdirected efforts of animal-rights activists?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2004, 05:01:38 PM »
Like most "animal rights activists" (as opposed to people who object to animal testing and the like), it just sounds like she's being a fucking idiot.

What is she on about? "I'm trying to make them look as bad as possible..." and then "I'm not glamorising them" - she's exhibiting them in an art centre and giving interviews about them to international press!

If this was objecting to... I don't know, a certain branch of vivisection which in her educated opinion, was unneccessary, then I might excuse all the above because sometimes it's important to get publicity for a cause which otherwise might "pass through the net", through whatever means. But she only seems to be contrasting her work from people who buy fur and the like...and quite rightly, everyone with a brain already has a certain level of awareness regarding that these days. This just strikes me as a simple publicity stunt from a rubbish, struggling artist.

Misdirected efforts of animal-rights activists?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2004, 07:11:08 PM »
The PETA cunts recently sent that German cannibal bloke a veggie cookbook and urged him to stop eating meat, the point they were making being that what he did was no better or worse then what us normal omnivores do.

 Don't get me wrong, I'm all for animal rights protester's rights, they should be kept in humane conditions and slaughtered in as kindly a fashion as possible, put them to sleep gently I say.
 Maybe they could even be lobotimised and released back into the community. The point is that PETA / Vegan types have feelings and emotions similar to human beings and should be treated as such.

Misdirected efforts of animal-rights activists?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2004, 08:49:29 PM »
Quote from: "gazzyk1ns"
Like most "animal rights activists" (as opposed to people who object to animal testing and the like), it just sounds like she's being a fucking idiot.

What is she on about? "I'm trying to make them look as bad as possible..." and then "I'm not glamorising them" - she's exhibiting them in an art centre and giving interviews about them to international press!

If this was objecting to... I don't know, a certain branch of vivisection which in her educated opinion, was unneccessary, then I might excuse all the above because sometimes it's important to get publicity for a cause which otherwise might "pass through the net", through whatever means. But she only seems to be contrasting her work from people who buy fur and the like...and quite rightly, everyone with a brain already has a certain level of awareness regarding that these days. This just strikes me as a simple publicity stunt from a rubbish, struggling artist.



I totally agree( blimey Gaz i think its a first ;)  ), its a cheap stunt by a not very good artist at that.

PETA is a odd set up, it seems to be doing its best not to be very sympathetic at all which does its cause not a lot of good really.

Cerys

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Misdirected efforts of animal-rights activists?
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2004, 11:20:58 PM »
Hah, this reminds me of an incident some years ago in which some activist student released the fruit flies in the Biology department.  Through a window.  In January.

Misdirected efforts of animal-rights activists?
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2004, 11:35:35 PM »
daddy? or dog?
daddy? or dog?
daddy? or dog?