A still taken from die-guillotine.com website

Two male artists from Berlin; Iman Rezai and Rouven Materne are conducting an online pole from their website die-guillotine.com 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 http://www.telegraph.co.uk 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?