IDA: Tell San Francisco Art Institute to remove snuff video exhibit from gallery

March 26th, 2008 10:13 am by Kelly Garbato

(Crossposted from.)

Note to those who carelessly toss out some variation of the complaint that “animals are treated better than people” (usually taking the form of a lamentation that ‘x’ minority group is treated worse even than mere animals; e.g., “women are treated worse than animals” or “dogs are treated better than women!”): Does this mean that I can, say, fillet a baby and get away with my crime, just so long as I videotape it and call it “art”? No? Then STFU.

And for Chrissakes, it’s not as though Abdessemed has to go out and slaughter another six animals to make such an exhibit; animal abuse is everywhere. She could have aired any six of the hundreds (thousands?) of undercover investigations conducted by animal activists. How is exhibiting something you can find on YouTube with distressing frequency “innovative” or “art”, even? Yawn. She’s not an artist, she’s a sadist.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: In Defense of Animals – takeaction [at] idausa.org
Date: Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 1:27 PM
Subject: Tell San Francisco Art Institute to remove snuff video exhibit from gallery

The “Art” of Animal Cruelty

Tell San Francisco Art Institute to remove snuff video exhibit from gallery

Walk into the Walter and McBean Galleries in San Francisco’s posh Russian Hill neighborhood, and you may be shocked to see what passes for contemporary “art” these days. Six televisions display video images of six different animals — a doe, a goat, a horse, an ox, a pig, and a sheep — being bludgeoned to death with a large sledgehammer by “artist” Adel Abdessemed of Paris. Entitled “Don’t Trust Me,” this sick exhibit is Abdessemed’s and the Institute’s self-serving attempt to pass off the brutal abuse and killing of animals as legitimate artistic creation.

What such “artists” and their patrons overlook is that animals are living beings who feel and suffer just like we humans — and we are no more justified in taking their lives at will than we have the right to kill another person. Such abuse of animals may elicit horror and disgust in viewers, but that does not qualify it as art. Far from it — in fact, “Don’t Trust Me” represents the very worst impulses of the human imagination.

It takes no artistic talent or ability to kill animals, and Abdessemed should have never been given a venue for his sickening “work” in the first place. To their great discredit, the San Francisco Art Institute agreed to sponsor this exhibit, lending it an air of credibility, but what makes matters worse are the obscene rationalizations this venerable institution of learning and culture offers in defense of the sleazy snuff films. These include pedantic claims that such killings “regularly take place…in the real world, on a regular basis,” and that the installation “(makes) typical moral and cultural constraints seem beside the point.”

Such statements betray not only a lack of compassion and basic human decency, but also a fundamental confusion of true artistic creation with the destruction of life. Abdessemed’s work is of no artistic value, and rather than raise people’s consciousness about the cruelties committed against animals every day, it will encourage them to accept animal abuse as a way of gaining attention and notoriety.

To call someone who murders animals an “artist” is an insult to every real artist who refuses to rely on violence and shallow, sensationalistic gimmicks to express his or her vision. While the work of such murderers will surely not endure, their antics may encourage and incite others to torture and kill animals, so it is crucial that people of conscience voice our outrage over this monstrous display of cruelty.

Please Take Action to urge the San Francisco Art Institute to remove Abdessemed’s disgusting exhibit immediately, and implement a policy explicitly prohibiting exhibits for which animals were exploited or killed.

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for IDA’s Action Center.

In Defense of Animals, located in San Rafael, Calif., is an international animal protection organization with more than 85,000 members and supporters dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of animals by protecting their rights and welfare. IDA’s efforts include educational events, cruelty investigations, boycotts, grassroots activism, and hands-on rescue through our sanctuaries in Mississippi and Cameroon, Africa.

In Defense of Animals is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We welcome your feedback and appreciate your donations. Please join today! All donations to IDA are tax-deductible.

In Defense of Animals
3010 Kerner, San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel. (415) 388-9641 Fax (415) 388-0388
idainfo [at] idausa.org

———————-

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3 Responses to “IDA: Tell San Francisco Art Institute to remove snuff video exhibit from gallery”

  1. Sue Says:

    Once again, this shows how people can get in a frenzy about misinformation, and although we have a needless war resulting in the needless deaths of thousands of people, it is much easier to get excited about what you think you know about an exhibit about animals, than educate yourself about what it actually is.

    The exhibit did not involve SFAI killing any animals- in fact, it shows and attempts to shock people into considering the senseless brutality against animals by a Mexican slaughterhouse. You think this would be right up PETA’s alley, but instead, many “animals lovers” have been so moved by what they think they know about this that the college is having to fend off threats against tehir faculty and students. I told a relative who is a student there that if she so much as had her little finger hurt by the acts of an “animal lover”, I’d have to do what Morris Dees did to the Klan- sue them into oblivion and bankruptcy. To threaten and harras the school in what outght to be considered an act of terrorism denigrates the animal rights movement, indicating that its advocates are just hairbrained nuts.

  2. Kelly Says:

    Sue – According to nonstarvingartists.com, which has stills from the video, the exhibit in question features looped videos of six animals being killed via one blow from a sledgehammer. (Just like the above alert says.) It’s clear that this isn’t footage from a slaughterhouse, since each death is filmed against an artful background. Nor does it appear that the “artist” in question was trying to protest animal cruelty.

    In an editorial titled Death for No Reason, a writer for the website says,

    The argument has been made that these kinds of exhibit are justified if they challenge our sensibilities or confront our social, political and cultural norms. This is undoubtedly true and is sometimes valid. There is a case for shocking people so that an artist can intercede a new slant on some situation, directly or obliquely. But this can be done, and has been done, very effectively and many times, without having to kill anything anew. There is plenty of death out there to work with.

    Only Abdessemed backs off the killings by saying that they ‘were to happen anyway’ and that he could not have prevented them. Hmmm, are we supposed to swallow the story that some farmer routinely slaughters an peculiarly odd mix of animals by sledgehammer? (Abdessemed ‘chose’ the six – a sheep, a horse, an ox, a pig, a goat, and a doe – from a wider number of animals – is this some sadistic ark?). This is guff.

    Think how many blows would it take to kill a horse or an Ox? Even a goat would need several direct smashes on the skull to kill it. Abdessemed doesn’t claim to be exposing any cruelty that might be worthy of art, instead the press release from the San Francisco Art Institute in sickly prose declares that “the multiplicity of stimuli imbue the work with an instantaneous efficiency that circumvents categorization, making typical moral and cultural constraints seem beside the point.”

    Beside what point? Not ‘social, cultural, moral, [or] political implications’ the blurb states, no… because “such questions [are] now verging on irrelevance”; oh really?

    Better then to quote Morrissey of The Smiths, “It’s death for no reason and death for no reason is murder”.

    Looking at this critically and realising what’s wrong here doesn’t require extreme animal rights activism or vegan sensibility. It’s the selfishness.

    Even hopped on Vicodin, it’s obvious to me that you have no fucking clue what you’re talking about. The bullshit emanating from your mouth is palpable. No one said that the SFAI killed any animals for the exhibit – just that they’re promoting animal abuse by sponsoring it. If students and faculty are being threatened, certainly I deplore that (most obviously because they have little-to-nothing to actually do with the exhibit), but all the action alerts and press releases I’ve seen from AR orgs have encouraged people to protest, not threaten violence. Which, despite AETA, is well within our rights.

    As for the war in Iraq, nice touch – it shows you for what you really are, a concern troll. Violence is violence, no matter the victim and perpetrator. Compassion isn’t an finite pie that we have to dole out in careful pieces lest we waste it; we can care about the animals exploited by Abdessemed, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and soldiers murdered by Bush. A “worse” wrong somewhere else does not make this right.

    Oh, and the ranking of “wrongs” – also bullshit.

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