Animals Are Not Art

Animals Are Not Art

I was watching a documentary the other night, Exit Through the Gift Shop, that dealt in part with Banksy, the famously talented street artist.  The film itself was fascinating, but one particular part of it disturbed me. I knew about Banksy’s art exhibit where he painted an elephant to make a statement about “the elephant in the room”, but I never really thought about what it meant to have a painted animal in an art warehouse where it does not belong. Granted, at the time when this art exhibit transpired, I was too busy fashioning new excuses to get out of gym class dodgeball (utterly the worst form of torture for a painfully shy, unathletic preteen girl by the way) to worry about animal rights. Yet after being reminded of this art exhibit, it really got me thinking more about the ways in which animals, particularly wild ones, are treated within the realm of the art world.

Just because something is done in the name of art does not make it right. There are too many performances to name in which artists have done something in the name of art involving animals. Sure, they may not be physically beating  or harming the animals, but they treat the animals like a prop when they are living, breathing creatures. They are creatures who do not belong in cramped environments like concert stages or art warehouses. Do not get me wrong, that elephant in Banksy’s exhibit from an aesthetic point of view was cool as shit. Yet I do not agree with it from a moral standpoint. I am sure if the animal could communicate his or her opinion,  he or she probably would not want to be painted and forced out of their natural environment to be ogled at in some foreign, tiny space.

I love my girl Lily Allen, but I have to say that I am not a fan of the part in her music video, Air Balloon, when she seductively poses on a cheetah. She suggestively straddles it at one point, and while I get that it is part of her artistic piece, the cheetah is still an animal and should not be used in that way.  Now, I do not know if this was just an animation, but regardless, the point remains that animals should not be portrayed as props like that just to get across an artistic agenda.

I remember on one season of America’s Next Top Model, the models had to pose with wild animals in real life. Wild animals should be appreciated on their own for their own beauty and awe. They should not be props used to sell a product, whether that product be an image of a person, makeup, clothes, whatever.

I always refrained from talking about this sort of stuff because I did not want to come across as one of those animal rights activist who a lot of people make fun of. But you know what? I like fun. Make it of me.  I realize that some people may not want to hear my beliefs, and that is fine by me. But if I can at least get some people thinking about it, I will be happy. So go my thoughtful readers, think! Think, think!

And check out Lily Allen’s video below (skip to 2:20 for the part I mentioned).