Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Consistent vegan message in art?

Maybe it's just late and I'm over thinking this ... but

 

What are the "vegan values" for including animals and things like eggs in visual art?

 

This is one of my paintings, which includes an image of an injured/dead bird.

 

Cyn McCurry, a fabulous artist, does paintings which include images of eggs ... like this ...

 

and this ...

 

and also this ...

 

Nonhuman animal images in art are often symbolic - and also often symbolic of oppression of one sort or another. What are the rules? ... or thoughts on how to keep a consistent vegan message in art?

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Comment by Cyndi Rook on September 17, 2011 at 5:22
Lisa-Have you seen this? http://www.artandresearch.org.uk/v4n1/v4n1editorial.php ? It was hopping around on fb in the last two weeks. I finally got around to reading some of it. If you haven't checked it out, do so. The featured works are extremely varied. Susan McHugh's intervew with Steve Baker relates a bit to the Leonardo Drew piece I mentioned here way back in July.
Comment by Lisa V on July 23, 2011 at 23:40

I see your point, Roger. Though exploring our fear of retaliation would be, I think, an interesting project.

 

What kind of vegan advocacy would you like to see in art?

Comment by Lisa V on July 22, 2011 at 11:41

Roger,

 

Like this?
I like it. It's obviously absurd ... and makes obvious our own absurdity. And isn't that what we're really afraid of ... & the plot of many of our horror movies? That someone else will do to us what we do to others?

Comment by Lisa V on July 22, 2011 at 10:14

Cyndi,

 

I think it would depend on the artist. Our use of nonhumans certainly seems like a worthwhile exploration. There are lots of ways to do art shows and I think the whole project would need to be explained for an artist to make any kind of judgement about becoming involved.

 

What kind of venue are you thinking about? And can you give an example of the artists you would like to have in a show?

 

Also, you're right that this is a huge subject. If you'd like, we can start a dialogue here and see where it goes. Maybe break it down into smaller chunks? (GFP Bunny alone is mind boggling) I think we could do it in the forum?

Comment by Cyndi Rook on July 22, 2011 at 3:32

If you haven't found it already, I also recommend Animal Voices interview with Keri Cronin, June 10, 2008 titled Animal Activism and Visual Culture.

 

Just out of curiousity, I mentioned in my comment above that I was determined to curate some local (for now)shows exploring non-human use. As an artist, how would you feel to be inculded in a show like this? Just to be clear, I'm looking at artists already doing work in this vein, not prescribing in any way. My only parameters would be that I'm not looking for cute pictures of puppies and kittens, which probably promote use more than question it. Would you fear it could damage your career? This may depend on where you live. What are your thoughts on this?

Comment by Cyndi Rook on July 20, 2011 at 3:30

I have an MA in Art History/Criticism, and I feel completely unable to answer these questions.  The use of vegan paints, glues, etc seems an uncontroversial place to begin. However, a well-known artist once did a series of "walls" built of found/discarded detritus, which, in effect, replaced the walls of the galleries in which they were constructed. The first piece I saw contained a dead, flatten raccoon, and I was immediately upset, just as if I had discovered the raccoon on the road from which he sourced this "material". Our initial reaction might be that this was not vegan. After all, this is a non-human animal-based material, but I think it deserves further critical consideration. Lisa, you have rather innocently raised questions that are incredibly complex and the answers perhaps more so. I absolutely think there are lines to be drawn--you provided a clear, uncontoversial example, for us, and it is up to us to continue to challenge and critique. Another example would be Kac's GFB (Green Flourescent Bunny) and there are countless others. For a discussion of GFB and this issue in general, have a listen to the Animal Voices interview w/Carol Gigliotti, April 28, 2008. This interview also touches on the censorship issues that Roger alludes to. (The art community is like other professional communities in many ways, and god-like attitudes are common, as I'm sure you know)

 

It is my intention to curate a series, hopefully, of shows in San Antonio exploring our uses of non-humans. It's important that we continue, relentlessly, through literature and all of the arts, to counter the attitudes to which our children are exposed from birth and in ways that are palatable. The curatorial process has been a bit surprising to me so far. Of the artists I've approached, all vegetarians or vegans, none would commit on the basis of "veganism as personal choice and not wishing to involve their professional lives," or something similiar. Obviously these attitudes raise another set of issues.

 

Lisa, you are definitely not over-thinking this. We are only beginning to explore these issues with any seriousness. Just a casual commentary here on ARZone makes my head spin! FYI, Antennae: the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, an online publication, is a worthwhile resource that I definitely recommend. If you don't know it already, prepare to be challenged by some of the work and probably upset as well.

Comment by Lisa V on July 19, 2011 at 1:19
Thanks for replying, Roger :). As I said, I'm probably over thinking this. Though, we all have rules we live by, and since art can't be separated from life I would argue that there are, indeed, at least some rules in art.

 

In becoming vegan, I feel I live under a different set of rules than I did before. I certainly have a different set of behaviors. Beyond the obvious change of not eating or wearing animals, I don't squish bugs, I don't ride horses, I garden differently, I use different art supplies, etc. I've changed my vocabulary. I no longer refer to other animals as "it," but as he or she or they. I think differently about everything I do. Those are profound changes. At the very least, I would no longer use animal hair brushes or beeswax, or a broken egg as a study.

 

I'm just trying to figure out how my visual vocabulary might change as I become more vegan. Art is a form of communication. Is using the image of a bloody bird a visual cousin of calling other animals "it?"

 

(And, certainly, I would never do this ... http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/vargas.asp)

 

 

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