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

By E. Coleman, R. Scollen, B. Batorowicz, D. Akenson

Category Journal Articles
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.

Date 2021
Publication Title Animals
Volume 11
Issue 3
Pages 14
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani11030812
URL https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/3/812
Language English
Author Address School of Creative Arts, Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts, University of Southern Queensland, Darling Heights, QLD 4350, Australia.ellie.frey@usq.edu.au rebecca.scollen@usq.edu.au beata.batorowicz@usq.edu.au david.akenson@usq.edu.au
Additional Language English
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  2. Animal roles
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