Artistic freedom or animal cruelty? Contemporary visual art practice that involves live and deceased animals

Article


Coleman, Ellie, Scollen, Rebecca, Batorowicz, Beata, Akenson, David, Coleman E., Scollen R., Batorowicz B. and Akenson D.. 2021. "Artistic freedom or animal cruelty? Contemporary visual art practice that involves live and deceased animals." Animals. 11 (3), pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030812
ERA Journal ID200143
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsColeman, Ellie (Author), Scollen, Rebecca (Author), Batorowicz, Beata (Author), Akenson, David (Author), Coleman E., Scollen R., Batorowicz B. and Akenson D.
Journal TitleAnimals
Journal Citation11 (3), pp. 1-14
Article Number812
Number of Pages14
Year2021
PublisherMDPI AG
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
ISSN2076-2615
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030812
Web Address (URL)https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/3/812/htm
Abstract

This paper examines a selection of 21st-century international examples of exhibited visual artworks involving live or deceased animals. It seeks to reveal the risks and benefits of unique encounters with animals through art and to consider the ethical implications of artwork deploying animals. Australian and international animal protection laws are not explicit when it comes to the sourcing of animals for art nor for the direct inclusion of animals in artworks. This lack leads to a variety of artistic practices, some considered ethical while others are viewed as controversial, bordering on animal cruelty. Artwork selection is determined by a focus on high-profile artists who intentionally use animals in their practice and whose reputation has been fostered by this intention. The study provides insight into how the intentional use of ethically sourced animals within art practice can be a method of addressing hierarchal human–animal imbalances. Further, this study identifies unethical practices that may be best avoided regardless of the pro-animal political statements the artists put forward. Recommendations of how to better determine what is an acceptable use of animals in art with a view to informing legal guidelines and artistic best practice are presented.

KeywordsAnimal rights; Animals; Cruelty; Ethics; Human–animal hierarchy; Visual art
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020360602. Fine arts
360603. Performance art
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Creative Arts
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Scopus ID85102334349
TitleArtistic freedom or animal cruelty? Contemporary visual art practice that involves live and deceased animals
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