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Animal Rights Activists Protest Live Pigeon Light Show (VIDEO)

May 20, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Citing animal exploitation and cruelty, at least two dozen activists in NYC staged a protest at “Fly By Night,” a month-long art exhibit during which 2,000 pigeons wearing LED lights are forced to fly in the dark over the East River, potentially subjecting them to stress, disorientation and drowning in the frigid water below. Pigeons, who have poor night vision, only fly during daylight hours.

Protest organizer Nora Constance Marino, President of the Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund, told TheirTurn that the group’s message is very clear: “Animals are not art exhibits.” Marino’s efforts resulted in a New York Times article about the protest, which opens with a strong animal rights message: ‘No one asked 2,000 pigeons if they wanted to have lights strapped to their legs in the name of art. Nor did anyone ask the birds how they felt about being shooed from their homes at dusk and sent flying up to illuminate the Brooklyn sky.”

Pigeons have limited vision in the dark, but they are forced to "Fly By Night" for art exhibit

Pigeons have limited vision in the dark, but they are forced to “Fly By Night” for art exhibit

Protester Elena Natale said that several ticket-holders decided to boycott the event after activists explained why using live animals in  art exhibits is inhumane: “While most attendees put on their blinders as they walked past us, several open-minded people wanted to understand why we were protesting.”

"Fly By Night" Ticket holder breaks into tears after speaking to activists

“Fly By Night” Ticket holder breaks into tears after speaking to activists

In a post on the Facebook page of Creative Time, the arts organization that is funding the pigeon show, Karen Davis, President of the national avian advocacy group United Poultry Concerns, condemned the event: “Perhaps what strikes me most significantly about this Fly By Night exhibit is the part where the pigeons are trying to land and get rest, but are forced to fly even though they are bewildered, scared and exhausted. . . No one who respects pigeons and empathizes with them as fellow creatures would dream of mistreating them so meanly, strapping gadgetry to them, and putting them in danger.”

From left to right: Disgruntled pigeon, pigeon advocate Tina Trachtenburg

From left to right: Disgruntled pigeon, pigeon advocate Tina Trachtenburg

The use of live animals in art exhibits was recently addressed in a CounterPunch article critical of the practice written by Elliot Sperber, a New York-based writer and lawyer.

Your Turn

Sign the petition to end “Fly By Night.”

Post a comment on Creative Time’s Facebook page.

Tweet the organization that is producing the event, Creative Time, and the artist, Duke Riley.


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Live Donkey to Be Displayed as Exhibit during Frieze Art Fair

May 4, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

In June 2015, the art world took note when animal rights activists staged a protest at a gallery exhibiting live animals in New York City. Both the art press and the mainstream media reported on the controversy. One year later, that protest is referenced in a new article in the Financial Times about Maurizio Cattelan, an artist who is using live donkey in his exhibit at the Frieze Art Fair in NYC: “The US animal rights lobby is increasingly vociferous. Last year, they called out Gavin Brown’s NY Gallery for restaging Jannis Kounellis’s installation of 12 live horses. Is he [Maurizio Cattelan] not worried about protests?”

According to the Financial Times, the exhibit – entitled “Enter at Your Own Risk — Do Not Touch, Do Not Feed, No Smoking, No Photographs, No Dogs, Thank you” – features “a live donkey alone in a room lit by a baroque chandelier.”

Sole donkey to be exhibited at Frieze Art Fair in NYC

Sole donkey to be exhibited at Frieze Art Fair in NYC

Cattelan claims that the donkey will have everything “it” needs, including the company of others: “I’m pretty sure it won’t feel lonely, with so many people passing by.”

Cattelan is better known for using taxidermy in his art installations. According to his Wikipedia page, these “works are designed to connect humans and animals through the projections of human emotions which the former places on the latter.”

Maurizio Cattelan displays dead animals as art

Maurizio Cattelan displays dead animals

Activists argue that animals – dead or alive – are not exhibits. “If we wouldn’t use a toddler in an art installation, then why should we use a donkey, who would be every bit as confused and out of place?” said Donny Moss of TheirTurn.net. “And if we wouldn’t stuff our grandmothers and suspend them from the ceiling, then why should we do the same to horses? Has our false sense of superiority over other animals given us license to do whatever we want with them? ”

Your Turn

The live donkey will be exhibited at the Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island Park from May 5 – 8.  Please contact Frieze to give the company feedback on the use of live animals at its art fair.

Frieze on Facebook
Frieze on Twitter
NYC office: +1 212 463 7488
Email: infonyc@frieze.com


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Live Horse Exhibit at NYC Art Gallery Triggers Backlash and Protests (Video)

June 30, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

As thousands of New Yorkers gathered at the Stonewall Inn on June 26th to celebrate the freedom to marry, 12 horses tethered to an art gallery wall just a few blocks away waited patiently for the freedom to move. It was an ironic and disheartening site to behold on an otherwise happy and historic day in Greenwich Village.

Just a few blocks away from the freedom to marry celebration, horses in art gallery were stripped of freedom to move

Just a few blocks away from the freedom to marry celebration, horses in art gallery were stripped of freedom to move

A NYC art gallery displayed 12 live horses for four days

A NYC art gallery displayed 12 live horses for four days

The New York Times described the live horse exhibit – “Untitled (12 Horses)” – as “stupendous,” but caring New Yorkers were not impressed. In fact, some showed up to protest.

The artist Jannis Kounellis, who says tying the horses to walls “makes a connection between the living element and the idea of solid foundations,” first created this exhibit in Rome in 1969. Oblivious to the outrage it would trigger in 2015, art dealer Gavin Brown brought Mr. Kounellis to his gallery in Greenwich Village to re-create it. For four days, the horses were tied to the wall for six to nine hours, rendering them unable to move around freely, lie down or scratch an itch.

Animal rights activists protest an art exhibit that consists of live horse

Animal rights activists protest an art exhibit with live horses

In a heated discussion at the gallery, Mr. Brown told TheirTurn’s Donny Moss that the horses were being treated humanely, with access to food, water and air conditioning. But, even if true, that misses the point, which, advocates say, is that animals are not props or “objects,” as the artist himself described the horses.

One of 12 horses tethered to the wall at Gavin Brown's art gallery in New York City

One of 12 horses tethered to the wall at Gavin Brown’s art gallery in New York City

It wasn’t only New Yorkers who registered their anger. People around the country flooded Mr. Brown with phone calls; expressed their anger on social media; and wrote scathing reviews online about the gallery. On Facebook, its rating dropped from 4.8 to 2.0 out 5. At least two media outlets wrote articles about the backlash. A story in the Gothamist, which had almost 200 comments, quoted TheirTurn’s Donny Moss: “Future generations will look at the photos of this animal exhibit and ask, ‘What were they thinking?'”

According to the NY Times, horses "relieving themselves" is a part of the experience of the exhibit

According to the NY Times, horses “relieving themselves” is a part of the experience of the exhibit

This is not the first time the Jannis Kounellis has used live animals. In his piece entitled “Fishbowl,” he placed a six inch chef’s knife into a bowl with live goldfish.

Artist Jannis Kounellis holds fish captive in a small bowl with a chef's knife

Artist Jannis Kounellis holds fish captive in a small bowl with a chef’s knife

An art news publication reported that Mr. Brown intends to re-create the exhibit yet again in a new gallery space. The backlash to this exhibit, however, has reportedly led to a change in plans. Starting on Friday, callers to the gallery were told that Mr. Brown would not be exhibiting the horses again.

Your Turn

Call Gavin Brown’s gallery to convey your point of view about the use of live animals in an art exhibit and ask him to cancel plans to re-create the exhibit in his new gallery space: 212-627-5258

Post a review of the gallery.


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