The San Francisco Art Institute recently cancelled an exhibition by the Paris based artist Adel Abdessemed called “Don’t Trust Me”. The controversy surrounding the SFAI exhibition involves 6 looped videos of animals being hit in the head with a sledgehammer. The animals being killed include a sheep, pig, horse, goat, deer, and ox.
Here’s part of a notice left on the SFAI website here..
“Soon after it opened, the Abdessemed exhibition became the subject of an orchestrated campaign by a number of animal-rights groups, including Animal Liberation Front (ALF), In Defense of Animals (IDA), and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). One result of this campaign was a parallel onslaught of explicit death threats and threats of sexual violence—as well as racial, religious, and homophobic slurs—against SFAI staff members and their families. The swift escalation from controversy to credible threats has regrettably forced SFAI to make a decision unprecedented in its 137-year history.”
I did a quick search for the videos online, but couldn’t find them (and am probably glad I didn’t find them). I saw some still images and they looked pretty gruesome. Just do a Google search for “Adel Abdessemed +Don’t Trust Me” and you should find some stills if you MUST see them.
Is it art? I don’t think so. I think they’re just animal snuff films created in order to shock. I have seen more shocking videos on PETA though.
And I’m sure that many of those that are so outraged by the killing of these animals happily drive through McDonalds or KFC without giving a second thought to the way the animals on their burger were killed. We have distanced ourselves so much from the killing of animals for food that we barely even recognize meat as living animals that were killed for our consumption.
So maybe Adel Abdessemed does have an important message to give with his Don’t Trust Me exhibition at the San Francisco Art Institute. Maybe the people that are so angry at the films don’t want to be reminded that their beef came from a healthy, living cow that had to be killed. I just think that so many “animal lovers” are really big hypocrits, and I include myself in this category as I like to think of myself as an “animal lover” yet I continue to eat meat. So we love the animals that are cute and cuddley and relate to people in some way, but we eat the ones that are on our burgers.
I think I’m talking myself into being a vegetarian, which is probably not a good idea right now as I’m invited to a BBQ tomorrow. I’m a walking contradiction.