April 19, 2002
1:16 PM   Subscribe

Are these "brilliant artists" the next Picasso and Ewen? Or the next Manson and Son of Sam?
posted by dobbs (38 comments total)
Manson or Son of Sam. No excuse for this.

Hope they wind up as the art project of a demented being of some variety... but, eh, cosmic justice always seems sorely lacking.
posted by dissent at 1:42 PM on April 19, 2002

i'm sickened by the whole thing.

as far as i'm concerned, there's an easy way to tell if something is art or cruelty: it's gotta be consensual. if a participant (be it human or animal) is being physically harmed against his/her/its will, then it's no longer art, it's a crime.
posted by meowmix at 1:42 PM on April 19, 2002

I'm sorry, but they do nothing to further their cause by mutilation and destruction. Ya wanna make society change its dietary habits? Give it some cheap, readily-available, high-quality substitutes. Shame and shock value don't engender any enthusiasm to their cause.

I'm disgusted.
posted by sigma7 at 1:46 PM on April 19, 2002

I like the fact that the guy had to be placed in "super-protective custody" because of threats from other inmates, threats - I assume - because he killed a cat. And they say prisoners are heartless ...

But seriously, this reminds me a lot of post-war Viennese artists who did similar things with chickens. But they did it in public, and weren't arrested. On the other hand, Vienna's a strange place.
posted by risenc at 1:47 PM on April 19, 2002

This is why I read the comments first. Now I know I don't need to click on any of these links.
posted by yhbc at 1:50 PM on April 19, 2002

Art is dead.
posted by evanizer at 1:54 PM on April 19, 2002

Who's Ewen?
posted by rodii at 2:43 PM on April 19, 2002

Even if the guy INTENDED the mutilation and killing as "art", the best it could be is really really BAD art. What does it say to people when you torture and kill something to achieve some end? That killing is ok as long as you "justify" it somehow? Gee... great way to get people to stop eating meat. Killing animals can be "justified", too, by saying that we do it to eat them.

The problem is in thinking killing is ok at all. Once *that* can be justified, any particular act is just a matter of degree/opinion. Pretty basic vegetarian/pacifist philosophy.
posted by SirNovember at 2:52 PM on April 19, 2002

worst. question. posing. thread. ever.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:02 PM on April 19, 2002

rodii: Who's Ewen?

Paterson Ewen. He's a painter. Some of his stunning works include Northern Lights, Halley's Comet as Seen by Giotto, and Satan's Pit.

the web photos don't do him justice. his work is very tactile.

ebk: worst. question. posing. thread. ever.

thanks. and only my second time out the gate.
posted by dobbs at 3:15 PM on April 19, 2002

where did someone say it was meant to be "art"?

anyway, if you're disgusted by that, you probably shouldn't eat animals, as what most creatures go through (in life and death) to be prepped for your dinner plate is just as ugly.
posted by mdn at 3:20 PM on April 19, 2002

mdn: where did someone say it was meant to be "art"?

did you read either of the articles linked to? they both say it was part of an art project.
posted by dobbs at 3:30 PM on April 19, 2002

From one of the articles: "it was part of a college art project intended to make a statement against meat-eaters."

Back in college, and a few times since, I've wanted to publically burn an American flag as part of a ceremony, before an audience, as an artistic statement of what the flag represents. That the flag is just a flag and burning it doesn't destroy what it symbolizes. It can even honor what it represents, if done properly. I believe it's possible to have flag burning ceremonies that are stirring and heartwarming. I believe that not only is flag burning protected by the constitution but it could be a great excuse to party and get drunk.

However, there are people in America who put the American flag up there with the Bible as something sacred that shouldn't be worn by Madonna as a fashion statement. Some people are downright militant about protecting the flag, and we're talking about just a piece of material here.

I understand that if someone were to publically mutilate a cat in an attempt to convey to the world the cruelty performed on cows and pigs and chickens every day to feed human beings, they'd make a powerful statement that could actually get through to some people and maybe save a few animals. Also, I'm a dog person so I could care less about what happens to cats. I think cats are evil, and dogs have all dedicated their lives to protecting us from cats.

Cats are living creatures however, and being gutted and blinded and all that - it's a bit much. But that's precisely the point those guys were trying to make. If we can't stomach that done to a cat, how can we allow it done to cows? What makes a cat better than a cow? Still, I think Chik Fila's "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign has made that statement more strongly than gutting chickens on camera could have made it.

I would say killing animals for one's art should negate the art, but I've seen some leather crafts that were prettty impressive. Is it okay to wear a belt or eat a whopper so long as you don't actually see the animals that died for the sake of that belt or that whopper on videotape?
posted by ZachsMind at 3:32 PM on April 19, 2002

That was pretty flippant of me. I read both of the articles and didn't see a mention of art in either. My problem with the question you pose is twofold:

1) If you even for an inkling believe that they considered what they were doing "art." Consider that an artist against the inhumane treatment of animals would never skin and torture one. And beyond a statement about animal cruelty, what else would be gained in a display such as this being considered "art?" My boundaries about what is art go farther than most, but this doesn't even come close for the reasons I stated.

2) The only future that would consider these losers artists is one straight out of an absurdist Miller/Darrow comic and that's most likely not going to happen.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:34 PM on April 19, 2002

Some people are downright militant about protecting the flag, and we're talking about just a piece of material here.

And those are the same people who cut a cheap copy of the flag out of a newspaper and tape it to the window of their SUV.
posted by elvissinatra at 3:39 PM on April 19, 2002

Oops, I suppose that's a bit of a generalization. Sorry.
posted by elvissinatra at 3:41 PM on April 19, 2002

if you're gonna generalize, that's a good one to generalize with
posted by eyeballkid at 3:44 PM on April 19, 2002

oops, sorry, things like
Police are still hunting for a third man who took part in the bizarre mutilation, the motive for which remains unclear. threw me off. I didn't notice the lawyers comments at the end.

But anyway, they said 'art project gone awry' & the ref to being a brilliant artist was not related to this project.

Like Zachsmind says though, it does get a point across (or ought to) - if you can't stomach one animal being treated like that, how can you support industries based on such treatment?
posted by mdn at 3:45 PM on April 19, 2002

mdn, Zachsmind - not all animals are equally intelligent or personable. Some animals are raised for their personalities, to be the associates, not the food, of mankind. Some are raised for food. These are generally raised to be astoundingly stupid.

I look forward, though, to when we can grow meat in a culture and not have to kill for it...

But, anyhow... animals we've raised to be associates, not food, of man I would consider to children of mankind. I view those who abuse or kill those animals in the same light as those who abuse or kill children.

Therefore, I hope I never meet such a person...
posted by dissent at 4:11 PM on April 19, 2002

mdn: ref to being a brilliant artist was not related to this project.

it was relevant to his defense, or so they thought, or they wouldn't have said it. as for its relevance to that particular "project," i would say it's very relevant. the "project" proves he isn't.

ebk: If you even for an inkling believe that they considered what they were doing "art."

For the record, someone else said they were brilliant artists. That's why it's in quotes. My opinion on the bastards is in the second half of the post. Not in quotes and not mentioned in either of the articles.

If I sided with the lawyers, my post would have been half as long.
posted by dobbs at 4:24 PM on April 19, 2002

I understand the Nazis made some groovy artwork too...lampshades and such.

Everything is relative, but that doesn't mean that everything should be accepted.
posted by rushmc at 4:32 PM on April 19, 2002

Jeez, they can have my cats. (I need to make some kind of "I'm sort of joking" emoticon like settle does).

I don't really buy the "different classes of living things" argument. Either an animal is alive or not, stupid cow or companiable cat. I'm neither a vegetarian or a Buddhist, so I think I don't have much respect for life as I crush ants and eat burgers.

Where I grew up, we used to hang deer up by their ankles and peel the skin off them. If you ran one down, it was dinner. Antler art was everywhere. I think our attachment to killable and unkillable animals is untenable.

Anyway, speaking as an arts professional, I give them a D. Trite. Ineffective politically. Ghoulish without being affecting. They don't get an F because they've displayed ambition.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:42 PM on April 19, 2002

The companion vs. food argument is a lot of bunk.

Sez you. Why is it bunk? Why can the distinction not be made? Is not a cat smarter and more personable than a chicken? Is not a dog more of a suitable companion for a human than a turkey?

I don't find it smug or sickening... I find your self-serving devotion to useless semantics that distract from dealing with matters that need to be dealt with and focus on ones that don't to be far more smug and heartless.

There are killable animals, and there are animals we kill. There are people we protect, and those that need to die... if you insist on rigid attachment to pure logic, tell me, strictly logically, why it is better to be good than evil, or better to be living than dead.

You can't. There are primitives... fundamental principles that have to be accepted, and that allow one to move on, and actually accomplish goals. You... and many others... make the mistake of setting these primitives at too low a level of complexity.

Oh- isn't there a vast range that are neither dinner plate nor companion, btw? However, I will readily make distinctions on what should live or die to suit myself. I kill roaches and flies... I admire dragonflies and mantises. I might not kill flies if there were few enough that there would be no mantis-chow, so to speak.

This entire world is about making judgement calls. Not all, or even most judgement calls can be strictly based on logic. Logic is purely a tool... useful for reaching goals, pointless in setting them.

And so, there are companion animals, and there are edible animals. Some of the companion animals eat edible animals.
Get over it.

We shape the world to suit our aesthetics. It's a function of sentience. If you claim to wish to prevent this, it's a clash of aesthetic values... and those are worth fighting to preserve, sometimes.
posted by dissent at 5:24 PM on April 19, 2002

Meany old sadists! Hurting the poor kitty-witty.
posted by Quixoticlife at 6:05 PM on April 19, 2002

These are generally raised to be astoundingly stupid.

Have you ever met a cow or a sheep?

Sez you. Why is it bunk? Why can the distinction not be made? Is not a cat smarter and more personable than a chicken? Is not a dog more of a suitable companion for a human than a turkey?

It's interesting that you make the companions the mammals and the food the birds. It's pretty well established that birds are on the whole less intelligent than mammals. But some people love their parrots, and some people eat cows and pigs and sheep and yes even dogs. The thing is, it's pretty random which of those animals is food & which is friend. I was on a ranch in chile for a week early this spring and got to meet a bunch of cows, and also watch them get dragged around by their necks and burned with a hot poker. They're sweet animals, and not "astoundingly stupid"; though I didn't get to spend that much time with them, there were definitely distinct personalities and they seemed pretty smart to me. As for sheep, around there a fair number were kept as sort of outdoor pets. They were better treated than the dogs, which did a lot of work for the farmers but rarely even got table scraps (cats got all the scraps & were welcome in the home).

Anyway, in many cultures cows are strongly identified with - northern african tribes, and the hindus, for example. So yes, I'd say your distinction is bunk.
posted by mdn at 7:15 PM on April 19, 2002

dissent: Sez you. Why is it bunk? Why can the distinction not be made? Is not a cat smarter and more personable than a chicken? Is not a dog more of a suitable companion for a human than a turkey?

what he's saying, i believe, is that the argument of "smarter" is only relevant because humans say it is.

i once heard a stand up comedian say something along these lines: "people are up in arms about the dolphis being killed in tuna nets. why? 'because they're the smart fish.'. so, when we gonna start eating the retards?"

for the record, on a whole, pigs are considerably "smarter" and definitely easier to train than cats. "smarter" than most dogs, actually. but hey, they're ugly. get 'em on the fryer! my neighbour's dog is an IDIOT. my own dog is smarter than most of the kids in the neighbourhood. all in all, the "intelligence" argument is pretty tenuous.
posted by dobbs at 7:20 PM on April 19, 2002

Have you ever met a cow or a sheep?

Thousands of beef cattle, live next to a field full. Stupid. Don't tend to eat beef- much- but don't feel guilty when I do.

No sheep. Never met one. Also don't eat mutton, and feel little inclination to start. But I feel no guilt over using wool, on the other hand.

i believe, is that the argument of "smarter" is only relevant because humans say it is.
Exactly. We're the ones that say what is or isn't- as much as some of us may squabble over it. Perk of being sentient. But anyway, half the arguement's hinged on *personable*, not just smart.

Subjective? Hell, yes! And I have no problem with that, or admitting that. I really don't respect doing anything for the sake of objectivity... the valuation of objectivity is purely a subjective decision.
posted by dissent at 7:56 PM on April 19, 2002

the thing with skinning living animals is it's a sort of, well, a tendency. a sign. a precursor. someone who has any inclination to skin and beat and mutilate a cat or a dog (more on the dog in a minute) isn't very far away from skinning and mutilating animals that more closely resemble me and you.

there's currently a 28 thousand dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who skinned a 10 week-old puppy and left it to be found by the side of a road in tucson last week. folks 'round here feel pretty strongly about bringing this person to justice, as they're not too sure they want to see any more of his work.

sure, artists are allowed to be sick fucks, but not all sick fucks are artists.
posted by carsonb at 8:14 PM on April 19, 2002

Subjective? Hell, yes! And I have no problem with that, or admitting that.

And this is precisely the point being raised by the "artists" in question - which subjective viewpoint do you actually value? That of the majority who say that killing animals is okay so long as they don't have readily apparent human-like qualities or that of the minority who say that all life is sacred. Or perhaps the attempt to objectively quantify the subjectivity of the majority i.e. the law.

A pretty cack-handed way of going about the whole thing, if you ask me.
posted by MUD at 8:19 PM on April 19, 2002

In this case, the majority, MUD.

I find reality a pretty "cack-handed" thing... but I move on past that.

"Why" is never as important once you've decided "What" as "How" is.
posted by dissent at 8:32 PM on April 19, 2002

I hear that, dissent. To be indelicate about it, there's more than one way to skin a cat and the people discussed in the news stories chose the wrong way.
posted by MUD at 8:52 PM on April 19, 2002

Good enough, MUD. I'll admit I'm cack-handed sometimes... but I'm still learning this life thing and the price of failure is so high, and the time to learn, so short.
posted by dissent at 9:04 PM on April 19, 2002

All I know is the stupid streaming video ad on the first link did cruel and unusual things to IE...
posted by Samizdata at 10:06 PM on April 19, 2002

Austrian "artist" Wolfgang Flatz recently gave a performance consisting of his assistants dropping a dead cow from a helicopter 130 feet in the air while Flatz was suspended naked from a crane, all the while striking a crucifixion pose.

I want to say that I have immense respect for that pilot. Holding a hover out of ground effect while large weights are being dropped with a sling load suspended requires a VERY cool hand on the cyclic.

Had I been flying, the fact that I would have been laughing my ass off would have had the chopper jerking all over the place. :)
posted by eszetela at 11:47 PM on April 19, 2002

Thousands of beef cattle, live next to a field full. Stupid. Don't tend to eat beef- much- but don't feel guilty when I do.

I don't mean to drag this out, but I don't think being next to a crowded field of cattle is the same as meeting a cow. If you lived next to a crowded pen of humans, you might very well conclude that they're "stupid" too. Cows aren't as "cute" as dogs and cats but they are individuals. At that ranch I spent some time watching them one by one go into the rodeo circle, & I discovered that they are very likable creatures, some quite beautiful, some rebellious, all distinct. And like I've mentioned before, in certain cultures they are revered - dinka men identify with a particular ox from their birth on, e.g. - more closely than we do with our dogs.
posted by mdn at 8:04 AM on April 20, 2002

I think the main point here is that the "artists" are being completely disingenuous (or are just clueless): most animals that are slaughtered don't suffer the way this cat did, most are not tortured, skinned alive and allowed to die slowly, most are stunned or killed long before anything too nasty happens to them (not that they're all treated as humanely as I think they should be - some certainly do suffer, and I do think some changes to the way they're treated need to be made, but I don't see how this "art" in any way advances an agenda of improving the treatment of animals). And, concern for the animals aside, it's simply too dangerous and unfeasible to try and butcher a cow before it's dead or past caring, so the vast majority of them are dead long before any butchering happens. These people are sick, they weren't making any "point" about animal rights, torturing a cat isn't "art", that's just an excuse they came up with to justify their abhorrent behaviour. I remember reading about this in a Toronto paper shortly after this story broke, one of the cops working the case said the videotape was one of the most disturbing things he'd ever seen, and that he was praying for the cat to die so that it wouldn't be suffering anymore. These people need psychiatric help.
posted by biscotti at 9:21 AM on April 20, 2002

Personally, I find the comparison to what these psychopaths did and the slaughter of food animals to be a bit ridiculous. The beef industry doesn't skin the cows alive and fully conscious, nor do they videotape them as they scream and cry for help. The animals are put down in the most humane manner possible given other factors (bolt gun, etc.). This wasn't art, it was torture, pure and simple. These two idiots had fun watching a defenseless creature die in as much pain and terror as they could think to inflict. Too bad they won't get to spend a couple of years in prison learning what fear and pain is really like.
posted by Bluecoat93 at 7:40 PM on April 20, 2002

The animals are put down in the most humane manner possible given other factors

I was recently on a ranch in South America and watched them drag cows around by their necks so they were choking and spitting, and then burn their flesh with a branding iron. I didn't actually witness a slaughter but given their lack of skill in roping and subduing the calves for marking, I can easily imagine it taking a few tries before the cow was dead. I'm not saying it's the same as skinning a cat alive, but it's no fun either. Maybe modern american methods where the cow lives in a cage full of it's own shit but dies with an injection is less directly painful, but it's certainly not a life to be envied.
posted by mdn at 3:19 PM on April 21, 2002

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