This is a video still of the Russian artist Oleg Kulik re-enacting his 1995 performance ‘Missionary’ in the street outside London’s Regina Gallery. He steps into a large fish tank, water pours over the side as the startled fish swim around his feet. The image shows a moment when the artist plucks a fish from the water and holds it into the air whilst talking to it. The fish eventually slips out of his hands, bounces off his face and splashes back into the water.
The gallery press release tell us;
‘…Kulik challenges common notions of what it means to be a human being’
‘The regression into an animalistic state of mind allows the artist to act out a human primitiveness commonly deemed unacceptable in today’s society.’
‘…Kulik exposes the animality of mankind and the fallacy of the concept of human supremacy.’
I would like to look at these press statements one by one.
Firstly, The dominant relationship between human beings and non-human animals is one of ownership, exploitation and cruelty. This notion of what it means to be a human being goes unchallenged when an artist uses animals out of their natural environment, frightens them and harms them. In fact rather than ‘challenge’ Kulik is actually reinforcing ‘common notions of what is means to be a human being’.
Secondly, Kulik’s ‘human primitiveness’, when directed towards non-human animals, is not certainly not, ‘commonly deemed unacceptable in today’s society’. Animal exploitation is acceptable and normal in today’s society and goes unchallenged by the artist.
Thirdly, ‘…Kulik exposes the animality of mankind and the fallacy of the concept of human supremacy.’ Surely there must have been some point where Kulik realized that he was benefiting from his own concept of human supremacy. Maybe it was when he first came up with the idea of using animals in his artwork. Maybe it was when he picked up the phone and ordered fish to be placed in a tank for his performance, maybe it was when he showed disregard for their wellbeing by splashing around in their unnatural environment and handling them. ‘The concept of human supremacy’, is indeed a fallacy but rather than expose it, Kulik uses it for his own ends – in this case his art.

Yelena Popova graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2011 winning the Red Mansion Prize and residency in Beijing, China. Since leaving she has had solo exhibitions at  Zabludowicz Collection London, Figge von Rosen Gallery, Berlin, Trade Gallery, Nottingham  Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham as well as numerous group shows. This interview was initiated by a comment Yelena Popova put onto facebook and my response to it.   You can view her work at

Yelena Popova: Our neighbour is a hunting historian and enthusiast. In a series of conversations (with lots of visual materials and gear) he unfolded the beauty of hunting for me. I am converted, throw your stones.

Peter Walsh: Here’s a stone. What about chasing down and tearing apart other races or other sexes or those with a different sexuality, is there also a beauty in that? I expect not, it’s just when it’s a different species to your own that it beautiful. There is no morally significant distinction between humans and non-human sentient animals – so if you condone this violent injustice to animals you shouldn’t complain about any other social injustice.

YP:  I agree with your argument, but perhaps for the sake of art and beauty one hunted fox a year (!) is more agreeable then flocks of suffering and murdered for food cows, sheep and pigs?

PW:  I guess I’m interested in what this art would be like, that took the form of a hunted animal (1 per year), who would find it beautiful and would it also be interesting art? Have you ever used animals in your art for this reason?  If you really agree with my argument it follows that you would agree that it was acceptable to hunt a person from another race (1 per year) for the beauty of art or hunt another sex or sexuality, or in fact a member of any other group that wasn’t our own.

YP: Peter below are some quotes from the book The Hound and The Hawk by John Cummings:

On intimate knowledge of the animals, the mastery and the craft:

‘The huntsman was trained at the varlet stage to distinguish between the tracks of the male and female deer, size depth of the slots indicated degree of maturity. The relative position of the fore feet and rear feet also helped in assessing the size and condition: if the prints showed that the animal had placed it’s rear foot onto or in advance of the mark already made by the fore foot, it meant that it was a lean beast, since flesh on the ribs and flanks would not prevent this. German hunters made examination of tracks an exact and subtle science, in which depth, breadth crispiness, relative position, presence of specific ridges or balls of earth etc, all played a part indicating not only whatever a best was chaseable, but the age , of the tracks and the pace and the state of mind of the animal.” The huntsman’s job was not only to choose and prepare animal to be tracked but also watch and protect the healthy population of the animals on the land. To know them and to care about them.

About your argument: People don’t kill each other for food. Animals do. It’s life and death in the animal kingdom. Dogs eat meat! so if the killing of the beast in nature is happening anyhow, then  (allow) hunting as a (sporting) event, a spectacle, a group action etc.

PW:  I don’t understand the relevance of the skill and knowledge of the huntsman in a discussion about ethics. If it is ethically wrong to hunt then surely no amount of ‘intimate knowledge or mastery of the craft’ changes this? Does a mastery of the mechanics of the gallows make hanging acceptable and ethical? Does the intimate knowledge of his human prey make the actions of the serial killer noble and beautiful?

Why is there one set of ethics for humans and another for non-human animals? I don’t share you belief that huntsmen care about animals. All the ones I met during my years as a hunt saboteur were in it for the sport and ritual. Everything from dressing up in uniform, meetings with sherry before starting, the ‘Glorious Twelfth’, hunt balls. These are not the actions of people who care about animals.

Wild animals have to kill and eat one another, that’s nature. We humans don’t have to kill animals to live – that’s the difference -we are unnecessarily cruel to animals on a global industrial scale.  But not just for food, as you point out – for spectacle too. I don’t understand how one can justify using animals for spectacle or art.  Can you expand on this?

YP: My hunting fascination is predominantly formed by those conversations with the hunting historian and his books. I attach two images of Maximilian’s tapestries from the Louvre for example

So I do appreciate that contemporary hunting is different. Like the Fox Hunting issue in England for example is not just about cruelty to animals it is also a class antagonism, right? But I felt that hunting, because of it’s rich history and tradition, current debate on animal rights and the change in our relationships with the landscape and nature is a very complex and interesting subject. I also think any mastery or knowledge is worth something and it is a shame when some knowledge or tradition being erased. Perhaps our ability to generate (abstract) knowledge and pass it to generations makes us different from animals?

No I can’t justify using animals for spectacle nor art, could you justify feeding meat to your dog? Humans’ are cruel to animals to feed other (domesticated) animals? What are your views on domestication actually?

Some things are given: like some humans, dogs, cats, and prey birds eat meat. And given that, (meat consumption) could be performed as a ritual full of symbolism, meaning, mastery, art and other social & economic connections, I would prefer that to hidden away industrial scale mass murder. In other words, I think hunting as it existed perhaps in medieval time is a much fairer and more beautiful game than contemporary animal farming.

PW: The tapestries are indeed amazingly beautiful and rich in detail. But I think I experience the content differently from you. In the first scene there is a large group of huntsmen both mounted and following on foot with dogs. They have chased an exhausted, terrified and desperate stag into the water and are descending upon it. When I view this scene I feel an anger that makes me want to fight against this injustice, I also see a link between the suffering of the stag with other forms of oppression in society, because I see no difference between humans and other sentient animals in terms of their entitlement to live. What I find beautiful and noble are the interesting facts that we know about stags, facts about their hearing, sense of smell, field of vision- all superior to those of humans for that matter. In fact I made a video Angus Steakhouse in relation to this issue.

I don’t think we should preserve hunting simply because it has a rich history, surely we also have a rich history of sexism and racism? But I agree that it is of historical interest to preserve a knowledge of the cultural aspects of hunting, preserved in books and museums and the tapestries you refer to.

I think you raise an interesting point on the question of keeping companion animals or pets and the food they consume. I’m in agreement with Gary Franccione here that it is wrong to keep pets and reproduce them. However while domesticated dogs do exist we have a duty to rescue them and to keep them. Incidentally all five of his dogs are vegan. He writes about this issue in his July ’12 blog

In regards to your final point, I don’t understand how meat consumption could be included in performance as art, or otherwise (other than documentary), without there being an exploitative speciesist element to it.

YP: To sum up: some issues are very complex, and I am interested in this complexity. Hunting is one of them. Our simple statement that hunting is ethically wrong and cruel would not  do much, but if we manage to put all the questions, facts, contradictions, histories, personal stories, links together then hopefully the wider group of people might be interested in hearing that, participating in the debate and make up their own mind about this issue. I don’t think one line propaganda works. I try not to take a fixed position on any issue, no matter how ethically urgent it is. Things are never black and white, there is a huge spectrum in between. See my video Unnamed about radioactive contamination or Particulate Matter about coal mining.

This is a detail of Hector Castells Matutano’s installation currently on show at The Royal College of Art (finishing 1st July 2012). It features a stuffed fox seemingly strangled by a strip of film, the legs twisted and contorted into a hideously unnatural position. An image of an animal broken, tortured and strangled, as property, as art. At least that is how it appeared to me. I contacted Matutano and tried to set up an email interview to find out more about his work but I received no reply to my questions. Just that he studied biology before art.

Hector Castells Matutano

RCA current graduates also include Lily Cain who displayed dead butterflies as art, pinned to a board with images on them. She was also unavailable for comment. I understand that my blog is dedicated to anti-speciesism and critical from the off, of artists who use animals in their work, but I’m still a little surprised that so few artists and curators are prepared to answer the questions I send to them. During my time at the RCA – only last year – considering difficult questions about your work was seen as a major part of developing as an artist.

Lily Cain

Yesterday I went to see the Goldsmiths BA show (department of art undergraduate exhibition). At least three artists were showing taxidermy and animal skins; Lisa Miller, Taniesha Kitchen and Kathryn Edwards. I got into conversation with Lisa Miller. Here are two photos of her installation space focusing on fur pelts and feathers.

Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller took time to talk to me about her work despite having to prepare for her performance that was about to take place in her space. I put her on the spot by asking her about her use of animal skins, pelts, skulls and feathers that form part of her installation that also includes video.

She answered by saying that her use of animals was related to, or authenticated by, the relationship she and her father have with nature. That, rather than being estranged from the source of our supermarket food, her father as a hunter of deer, or rather a conservationist (by culling) had a more intimate understanding of animals in the natural world. She said that the animals died with dignity and that if they didn’t die in this way the population would be too numerous to live in their limited environment.

In answer to these points I said that the animal in question did not care about the dignity of its death. The animal simply wanted to go on living. Regarding conservation and managing deer numbers, I am sceptical that this is what motivates most people to hunt.

I agreed with her that most of us have little or no knowledge of the processes involved in how our food gets from the farm to the supermarket, especially of the cruelty involved. This intimate relationship with animals however, does not alter the fact that we do not have the right to kill other animals simply because they are not our own species. Just as we do not have the right to kill other humans because they are a different race or sex to us. And even if the motivation to hunt and cull animals is a welfare or conservationist one, we are being speciesist in doing so. It is speciesist because humans do not have a greater claim on life than other animals. What if the global population of humans was destroying the environment (as it is)? Would it then be justifiable to cull humans?  Why is it different with non-human animals? I believe there is no morally significant difference between humans and non-human animals and so they cannot be treated as less important.

For these reasons I believe it is wrong to use animals as our resources, for food, clothing or for art.

Taniesha Kitchen

I could find no information on Taniesha Kitchen so I have been unable to contact her. She showed two stuffed animals with nails driven into their bodies and covered in a latticework of thread. A wolf or dog-like animal and a rabbit. The wolf appeared quite small and had proportionally shorter legs still, making it look like it had been ‘altered’. At one point it was difficult to see if they were real animals, once living, but interestingly, in this case I find my criticism doesn’t wholly rely on cruelty or using animals as resources. I find the artwork objectionable in the way that somebody would find a racist or sexist or homophobic image objectionable. The animals these sculptures allude to have evolved over time to have incredibly sophisticated bodies superbly adapted for their environment with a biology and physiology that science is still trying to understand. No aspect of what they are can be improved upon or made interesting by driving nails into their bodies.


Kathryn Edwards

Kathryn Edwards fills a room with altered taxidermy. To give her the benefit of doubt you might think that perhaps she is unaware of just how much artwork, very similar to this, is constantly made and shown. This notion is soon dispelled however, when visiting her website/shop and seeing that she is already immersed in the world of taxidermy.



This is an art of mine called ‘Spitting Buddha’.  Some years ago I witnessed a schoolboy spitting on a pigeon in the street. I found the act strangely shocking and obscene. The boy was walking along the street and confidently spat on the pigeons without looking around to see if anyone was watching. It was as if anything could be done to them without consequence, as if they had no standing or rights. I tried to recreate what I had seen and used a ceramic Buddha ornament with a timer pump mechanism inside it to spit water onto two ‘pigeons’. The pigeons, bought online, were lifelike polystyrene models covered in feathers. It was quite some time after making the art that I realized (of course) the feathers were obtained by a cruel and speciesist process. Nowadays I would not use feathers or show this work.

But what if the feathers were found and collected, having naturally fallen off a bird? What if the bird was lying dead by the side of a road? In these cases I still think it’s unacceptable to use the feathers. The reason being that animals are not our resources and surely we should be just as sensitive as to how we portray another species as we would another race or another sex? It is this  questioning that lead me to write to animal activist and taxidermy artist Angela Singer.

Dear Angela Singer,

I would like to ask you a couple of questions about your artwork specifically the use of animal parts in your taxidermy, botched taxidermy (or reversed taxidermy). I understand that all the animals you use are donated, already used parts, that would otherwise be thrown away and that you never have an animal killed for your art. I am interested that you describe yourself as an animal activist and that your motivation in many of your artworks is to provoke the viewer into considering the speciesist relationship that exists between humans and non-human animals. It says on your website that ‘Ultimately, for Singer, the main purpose of her works to ‘make the viewer consider the morality of our willingness to use animals for our own purposes.” But isn’t this exactly what you are doing? You are using the bodies of animals for your own art. I understand your art is to raise awareness of animal suffering but that doesn’t remove the speciesism that is taking place.

Elsewhere you talk of including Catherine Chalmers in a show you curated and said the artist was, ‘responsible for the death of the insects and mice’.  Surely this inclusion is also a speciesist act, but one that was considered less important than the  making a successful exhibition?

I would also like to ask you how you feel about showing your work alongside twenty or so other taxidermy artists, most if not all, I would assume are not animal activists?

Personally, I don’t think we can decide from work to work, artist to artist, when it is ok to use animals and when it is not. Either sentient non-human animals are our resources or they are not. I consider myself an anti-sexist male artist but can you imagine what it would be like if I kept making paintings out of cut up naked women to make a point about how bad sexism is?

The press release for The Rogue Taxidermy 2012 Biennial tells us that it ‘features 25 of the most interesting artists working in taxidermy today.’ This may be so but unfortunately taxidermy makes for the most uninteresting art in the world today. Non-human sentient animals are not our resources to be used how we will. It makes no difference if the artists pledge to make ‘efficient use of the animals and parts of animals’, use road kill or purchase animals form the grocery store. If male artists presented women in such a degrading way we would call it sexist, if other races were discriminated against in this way this we would call it racist, similarly, to use the body parts of other animals in this way, or any way, is speciesist.

A still taken from website

Two male artists from Berlin; Iman Rezai and Rouven Materne are conducting an online pole from their website to decide whether to guillotine a sheep.  The public vote will be counted mid May with the majority decision determining the animal’s fate.

The comments I have read in response to this story from generally fall into one of two groups. The first, includes statements that express some anger at the artists and their art: …This is not art… the artists should execute themselves… the artists are nasty, cruel and publicity seeking etc. The other group contains comments that fail to see a problem with this artwork and draw our attention to the hypocrisy of a meat eating public up in arms because one more animal is slaughtered for art. They remind us of the cruel industrial slaughter of animals for food and say that if anything the guillotine is a more humane death than other animals have.

I agree with both groups – in parts. This is not (interesting) art because it is so familiar and unoriginal in its putting the fate of an animal in the hands of an art going public.  I also agree that far greater animal cruelty is carried out every day on a global industrial scale and it is hypocritical for meat eaters, or more accurately, non-vegans to object to the art purely on animal cruelty grounds. However, I do not agree that we should find no problem with the art.

Here’s why. A deeper hypocrisy is reveled when we examine our relationship with other social justice issues. If we consider racism, for example, to be a morally objectionable part of society we would surely also object to ‘another racist art’ that was cruel and exploitative, making some point about racism and democracy. Similarly with sexism, no one would say we shouldn’t be offended and object to sexism as art just because sexism exists in society. So it is with speciesism. The world is overwhelmingly speciesist but that does not justify more speciesism as art. However, as we’ve already noted, it would be hypocritical for a non-vegan to object to this art which raises an interesting issue; to what extent is our criticism limited by our understanding of justice and morality? Furthermore, do non-vegans forfeit their right to critique any social injustice?

This post by   is reblogged from Flavorwire Posted on 1:30 pm Wednesday Apr 18, 2012

If you salivate at the sight of bacon, would you be OK with watching a squirming pig being tattooed? If the thought of eating animal flesh sickens you, do you hate the very idea of using live animals in art, or can you justify it if the art is good? Do you feel more sympathy for a horse, a dog, or a goldfish? Some calls are easier to make than others, but there’s a bit of an ethical grey area when it comes to live animals in art. Check out our brief survey of works and the creatures that made them possible, and find your own gradient of sensitivity. Where do you stand?

Photo credit: Martha Cooper

Miru Kim, I Like Pigs and Pigs Like Me at Art Basel Miami

Artist Miru Kim spent 104 hours in a glass-encased hog pit inside of the Primary Flight Gallery at Art Basel 2012 for her performance I Like Pigs and Pigs Like Me. The makeshift pen was livestreamed as Kim imagined the life of a pig, mingling her flesh with the animals’. Nude and on all fours, she interacted with her companions, feeding, hugging, scratching, and rolling around with them. Though the two pigs were reportedly headed to a no-kill farm after the exhibit, an animal activist alleged they were sick and abandoned.

Photo credit: Wim Delvoye

Wim Delvoye’s pigs at Art Farm Cina, Beijing

“Instead of producing art I wanted to harvest it,” explains Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, inking these pigs with Louis Vuitton logos and Russian prison tattoo-inspired designs on Yang Zhen’s Art Farm China in 2011. Though the pigs were under anaesthetic while tattooed, they are being held down in the unsettling photographs of the sessions. There are also heartwarming photos of them happily rummaging around a green forest afterward, where they “snuffle the undergrowth” and roll around in wild muck. Sure, that’s better than awaiting death in a slaughterhouse. But in the end, some of these guys are getting stuffed and some have their skin peeled to be stretched over canvases for sale.

Banksy’s elephant at Barely Legal

For his 2006 Los Angeles solo debut, world famous street artist Banksy had an elephant painted to match his installation’s wallpaper to symbolize world poverty, a vastly ignored global issue. Tai, the elephant, was literally the elephant in the room, surrounded by flashing cameras, teeming crowds, and an atmosphere celebrity hype. Even though the paint was non-toxic, Los Angeles’ Animal Services Department reportedly regretted granting Banksy the permit for the gimmicky piece, deeming it illegal and asking Tai to be scrubbed down and repainted with children’s face paint.

Photo credit: Museo Madre

Jannis Kounellis, Horses, Galleria L’Attico, Rome

Greek-born Jannis Kounellis was a pioneer of the anti-establishment, anti-elitist Arte Povera movement — he chose street theater over museum shows; art, dirt, fire, and discarded metal over traditional art materials. In 1969, he tied twelve horses to the walls of a gallery in Rome, transforming the sterile space into something to be confronted and encountered. Ta-da! The viewer’s environment had been drastically transformed. The horses’ environment was too. We wonder what they thought about that.

Photo credit: Girish Shahane for the Hindustan Times

Naveen Thomas

Earlier this year, an installation piece at India’s National Academy of Fine Art gallery ruffled a few feathers when Bangalore-based artist Naveen Thomas placed a bunch of pigeons in a room rigged with copper wires and radio transistors. As the birds hopped and scampered around, they set off the copper sensors, altering the white noise that filled the room. Conceptually, pigeons making noise music is amazing. However, animal sympathizers insist that the white noise hurts the birds’ hearing and homing abilities. The artist wasn’t too concerned: ”I find it interesting to hear how the sound fluctuates every time a bird sits on the copper wire… I’m treating the birds better than they were treated where they had come from. I would even use a monkey if I could.” Please don’t.

Photo credit: The Kansas City Star

Amber Hansen

Artist Amber Hansen’s 2012 Chicken Run was the spectacle that never was, so we have no gory picture for you to ponder over. Instead, imagine this: Lawrence, Kansas. Five chickens are clucking in a public coop where visitors can get close to them, get to know them, and see them as real live beasts. Then, they watch them get slaughtered, cooked, and served. Then, they eat them.The Story of Chickens: A Revolution was meant to demonstrate that meat isn’t just food, but it was banned on charges of animal cruelty. Meanwhile, more discrete rituals of mass meat production continue.

Image credit: Paxmachina, ANIMAL

Elizabeth Demaray, Corpor Esurit

At first Elizabeth Demaray’s Corpor Esurit installation sounds horrifying: Lots and lots of ants sequestered into two chambers, one for their colony to nest in and the other, down a plexiglass tube, filled with McDonald’s food products that they’re forced to gorge on… Only, not really. Ants usually eat seeds, fruit, and plant material, and so they did — nibbling on apples, the seeds on the buns, and the insides of chicken nuggets, which are mostly corn anyway. The ants are fine. There was no outstanding death rate. That’s a relief. What would we feel had they not been fine or not been ants?

Photo credit: Denise Bellon

Salvador Dalí, The Rainy Taxi

Salvador Dalí ”tortured” some insects too. Here’s a test for any proud animal lover. These are live snails crawling over the face of a rotting mannequin inside a car in the lobby of the International Exposition of Surrealism at the Galerie Beaux-Arts in 1938. They feed on nearby lettuce. They drink water raining down through pipes above. And yet, they are live animals, displaced from their habitat and used for the purpose of entertainment. Is this wrong?

Photo credit: Marco Evaristti

Marco Evaristti, Helena

In 2000, provocative artist Marco Evaristti installed ten blenders filled with water and live goldfish at the Trapholt Art Museum in Denmark to challenge the ethics of his audience. InHelena, ”the audience members became arbiters over life and death in a situation where it was crystal clear what would happen if they pressed the button.” Two buttons were pushed, but the courts decided that the deaths were not prolonged and so, not inhumane. Does that sound comforting? Would you push the button?

Photo credit: Wikipedia, DaWire

Guillermo Vargas, Exposition No. 1. 

For the 2008 Honduras Biennial, artist Guillermo Vargas paid children to capture an unfortunate street hound, chain it to a wall and, seemingly, allow it to starve to near death until it allegedly escaped. An enraged internet media storm erupted. The artist was removed from the 2008 Honduras Biennial and charged with animal cruelty. Or that was the initial story. On the wall, the signage ”Eres Lo Que Lees” (“You Are What You Read”) was written in dog food. Apparently, the dog was only tied up for three hours a day and was fed regularly. The artist manipulated the media firestorm himself. He pointed out that no visitor tried to free or feed the dog; he drew a parallel to a recent death of a burglar who was mauled by dogs as the police stood by and watched, to point out the hypocrisy in the media. That’s clever and reassuring, but doesn’t the image of this dog, tethered, tattered and scared still tug at your heartstrings?

‘The butterfly room, however, is unbearable. I saw its first incarnation in the Woodstock Gallery in 1991 and was sickened by it then, for it knowingly involves the death of butterflies, probably tens of thousands of them by the time this wretched exhibition ends on September 9. Even before the exhibition opened these creatures were fluttering exhausted on the gallery floor, denied anything that resembles their natural habitat. How is it that they are “only” butterflies? How is that the RSPCA does not protest? How can any decent man or woman walk through this room — the In and out of Love — without the rise of anger at such cruelty? What an artist does at 26 one may perhaps attribute to the waywardness of his intelligence, but at 47 how could Hirst bear to repeat such vain cold-blooded inhumanity?

All who care for living things should boycott this exhibition. Disgust must be the response of the sane, not only to the use, abuse and deaths of butterflies, but to the exploitation of farm animals mercilessly slaughtered in the knacker’s yard and, at an aesthetic level, to Hirst’s taste for the ghastly glitz and glamour found in Miami’s holiday hotels. I can sum it up as shiny shit.’

Brian Sewell, ES–review-7618751.html

Darren Bader’s exhibition takes up several rooms at MoMA PS1. The piece that I specifically want to focus on features  cats in a room with an invigilator, a couch, a few objects and a photograph on the wall. On the day I visited there were two cats, one permanently hiding under the couch, and the other sometimes coaxed out by the invigilator.  The cats are from the SaveKitty Foundation rescue centre and are up for adoption. Visitors are encouraged to adopt the animals which are replaced from the shelter on a one out, one in, basis. The artist raises our awareness of the plight of cats in shelters and the need to adopt before the animals are euthanised. The sheer numbers of animals killed every week in shelters are shocking. Animal activist Gary L. Francione  keeps a log on his facebook page of the number of cats and kittens, dogs and puppies that are put down. Like Darren Bader he also urges us to adopt an animal. Francione, who leads the Abolitionist Approach towards non human animals argues that animals are not our resources and that if animals have only one right,  it is the right not to be owned. I am in agreement with Gary and despite the good work done by Darren Bader in raising our awareness of the issue of animals in shelter, I believe it is wrong to use the cats in this way as an art resource. This is because he is using the pathetic plight of the (sometimes) frightened animals to produce art. I also find myself in disagreement that, ‘each cat is also an artwork’ (if you adopt, the art status can be removed if you like). This seems to suggest that it is possible to make the cats into something more than cats – transformed into art –  above and beyond  their status as cats as living sentient non-human animals. If cats can be transformed into art then so can racism or sexism. Any social injustice could be enjoyed and consumed as art.

In Artinfo 25 Questions for conceptual sculptor Darren Bader  he says, ‘What appears as activism is just a means to an end: sculpture’, which makes me think there is a dysconscious speciesism running through this exhibition. In the same interview he says,  ‘I am a big animal rights and environmental advocate (too often in private).’ This second statement I would associate with veganism and not someone who would use animals in an environment that was unnatural to them as he did by using live goats in Andrew Kreps last year.

© Matthew Septimus 2012 / Courtesy of MoMA PS1