This only touches on the surface of a growing problem (see this past post, for instance). I encourage readers to submit more documentation of these sick fucks who masquerade as “artists” in order to document yet another aspect of the Animal Holocaust Industry comprised of opportunists who make careers (vivisectors, “artists,” academics, and others) off animal exploitation (which unfortunately includes nearly all animal studies, “critical” or otherwise). The more of this demented “art” I see, the more I fear this is not a “trend,” but the institutionalization of a new genre that lays out the welcome mat for any pretentious sociopath seeking entry into the “art” world with all the fame and money it can bring.
Randy Malumud, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23, 2012
Vengeful Tiger, Glowing Rabbit
A photograph from the “Perishables” series, in which models wear parts of raw, dead chickens.
Americans do weird things with animals.
Perhaps our imperious stance toward other species and the rest of the living world grows out of the same sensibility embodied in the 19th-century ideology of Manifest Destiny, invoked to justify unbounded American expansionism.
Today, with our having achieved geopolitical dominance, the ethos persists in our drive to conquer nature. More habitats must be bulldozed, more wetlands repurposed, more wilderness plundered in the name of American progress.
We have a dysfunctional and sometimes paranoid compulsion to disarm the threat we see emanating from nature as other. Consciously or subconsciously, our cultural exploitation of animals often facilitates this agenda of disempowering the nonhuman realm. We seem to embrace Freud’s expression that a civilized society is one in which “wild and dangerous animals have been exterminated.”
When we encounter other animals, we often selfishly abuse and manipulate them. When a person and an animal meet, the animal generally ends up somehow the worse for it. We simply do not understand them, and we are poorer for that.
Our cultural interactions and visual representations are ecologically significant. The way we relate to animals in culture affects how we relate to them in nature. The imaginative exploitation of animals foreshadows more-literal and destructive incursions into their world.
People’s weird constructions of other animals are ways of figuratively exterminating them: defusing their wildness and “danger,” transforming their powers into harmless, clownish impotence. Eduardo Kac, for instance, created what he calls a GFP Bunny (transgenically modifying a rabbit with green fluorescent protein produced by jellyfish) that glows in the dark. Such ecological irreverence typifies the conceit that we can do what we want with animals, because … we can do what we want with animals.
The GFP Bunny is a rabbit implanted with green fluorescent protein (from jellyfish) so that it glows.
What might the world look like if we could transcend the demeaning, received ideas about other animals and try seeing them in ethically and ecologically reasonable ways? “What is at stake ultimately,” Erica Fudge writes in Animal (Reaktion, 2002), “is our own ability to think beyond ourselves.” Continue reading