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Artist Duke Riley Throws Tantrum At Protest Targeting His Live Animal Show

July 26, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Duke Riley, an artist who strapped LED lights on the legs of 2,000 pigeons and forced them to fly in the dark, verbally assaulted animal advocates, calling them “racists,” “animal abusers,” and “animal haters.”

Artist Duke Riley Verbally Assaulted activists protesting his pigeon show.

Artist Duke Riley Verbally Assaulted activists protesting his pigeon show.

The Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund (ACEF), an animal advocacy group, staged three protests in front of Riley’s “Fly By Night” shows. At two of those protests, Riley brought in counter-protesters with provocative signs in an attempt to discredit the animal advocates.

Counter-protestor

Counter-protestor

“Duke Riley’s totally unsubstantiated accusations, in calling animal rights activists and protesters ‘racists’ and ‘animal haters,’ is beyond ludicrous,” said Nora Constance Marino, President of ACEF. “Mr. Riley has resorted to baseless and meaningless defamatory name calling in an apparent ill-conceived and feeble attempt to defend his actions.”

Counter-protesters recruited by Duke Riley.

Counter-protesters recruited by Duke Riley.

Pigeons, who are strictly daytime animals, have poor nighttime vision and only fly in the dark if disturbed. “Fly By Night” potentially subjects them to stress, disorientation and drowning in the East River.

Excerpt from Creative Time's website

Excerpt from Creative Time’s website

Creative Time, the arts organization that funded the pigeon show, claims on its website that the show took place “when there is still daylight.”

However, photos and video taken during “Fly By Night” demonstrate that the pigeons are, in fact, in the air after dark.

Video footage taken at the event shows that the birds were out while there was little to no daylight.

Video footage taken at the event shows that the birds were out while there was little to no daylight.

In a post on the Facebook page of Creative Time, 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.

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

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

Post a comment on Creative Time’s Facebook page.

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


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Artist Straps Lights onto Legs of 2,000 Birds for Art Shows

May 12, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Though pigeons have poor vision in the dark and fly only during the day, artist Duke Riley is attaching LED lights onto the legs of 2,000 of the birds and forcing them into the air at night, potentially subjecting them to stress, disorientation and drowning in the frigid water below.

Artist Duke Riley straps lights to pigeons' legs and forces them to fly at night (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Artist Duke Riley straps lights to pigeons’ legs and forces them to fly at night (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

With the support of the non-profit public arts organization Creative Time, Mr. Riley is staging 18 “Fly by Night” shows over the East River in NYC from May 7 – June 12.

Bird advocates say that the stress of being forced to fly at night is exacerbated by the potentially blinding lights and the pigeon handlers’ use of poles to prevent the frantic birds from landing on the boat from which they are launched. In a NY Times review of the show, Roberta Smith states that “some [pigeons] regularly attempted to return to the boat only to be gently shooed away by their handlers.” During the performance, kayakers hired by Creative Time patrol the river for fallen birds – a tacit acknowledgment that the artist is putting the bird’s in harm’s way.

Pigeons have limited vision in the dark, but they are forced to fly for art exhibit

Pigeons have limited vision in the dark, but they are forced to fly for art exhibit (photo: Kathy Willens/AP)

“Taunting pigeons with a long pole? Forcing them to fly at night even though they cannot see in the dark? These are unwilling participants, and this is not art; it’s animal cruelty,” said artist Tina Trachtenburg, a NYC-based pigeon advocate who has dedicated her life to being a voice for the oft-marginalized bird.

Pigeon advocate Tina Trachtenburg educates the public about pigeons

Artist and pigeon advocate Tina Trachtenburg educates the public about pigeons

Creative Time, which produces the event, describes it as “a transcendent union of public art and nature” —  “At dusk, a massive flock of pigeons will elegantly twirl, swoop, and glide above the East River, as Riley orchestrates a series of performances occurring regularly throughout late spring. . . The pigeons will circle above the river as the sun sets over Manhattan, and small leg bands, historically used to carry messages, will be replaced with tiny LED lights, illuminating the sky.”

Duke Riley (photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

Duke Riley (photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

Mr. Riley and Creative Time defend the use of pigeons, asserting that they “retained an avian veterinarian who helped establish proper protocols for the health and safety of keeping pigeons” and that an “independent animal advocacy monitor is on hand for all performances.” Animal rights activists, however, argue that the use of protocols and monitors don’t make the use of the pigeons any less inhumane.  “At dusk, these birds would be settled in for the night, not flying into the darkness and not wearing accessories to entertain humans,” said Trachtenberg. A Change.org petition to shut down Fly By Night has collected over 1,000 signatures in two days.

According to Creative Time, the artist will, at the conclusion of the show, “keep many of the pigeons as his pets.” The rest, the organization says, “will be returned to their original owners or be placed with local pigeon fanciers.” Advocates suspect that many of the pigeons will sent to operators of canned hunts.

“Fly By Night” is not Mr. Riley’s first art exhibit with pigeons. In 2013, he strapped black market Cuban cigars and cameras onto dozens of pigeons and forced them to fly 100 miles from Havana to Key West, Florida. The NY Times reported that many of the pigeons died or disappeared in Riley’s “Trading with the Enemy” art project.

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.

If you live in NYC, please participate in the protest organized by the Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund (ACEF) on Sunday, May 15th from 6:30 – 7:30 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

 


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Victory: State Senate Votes to Ban “Live Pigeon Shoots,” But NRA is Fighting Back

October 17, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

Persistence pays. After years of exposing the barbarism of live pigeon shoots in social media and in TV commercials, the U.S.-based animal protection group SHARK (Showing Animals Kindness & Respect) has scored a major victory.

In a statement released on Thursday, SHARK announced that “Pennsylvania’s Senate voted overwhelmingly to ban live pigeon shoots in the state. SHARK president Steve Hindi said, “We are pleased that the will of the people has finally prevailed over the cruelty of the National Rifle Association (NRA).”

Here’s the catch: the NRA and the PA Flyers Association (the local hunting lobby) have donated thousands of dollars to members of the state House of Representatives, which has yet to vote on the bill. In addition, the Flyers Association is asking supporters to urge their state legislators “to protect Pennsylvania’s rich hunting traditions by opposing any attempts by radical and deceptive groups to outlaw hunting.”

pigeon-shoot

On September 5th, U.S. Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, hosted a pigeon shooting party to raise funds for his re-election campaign. In spite of the Senator’s efforts to keep out animal rights activists, an undercover investigator from SHARK infiltrated the event and took damning close-up footage of the hunt. Now, SHARK is publicly exposing the sponsors of the event, which will assuredly deter other companies and individuals from supporting future hunting events.

More than any other organization in the United States, SHARK has exposed the utter brutality of canned hunts, rodeos and other animal abusing contests disguised as sporting events.

Rodeo (photo: SHARK)

Rodeo (photo: SHARK)

Your Turn

If you live in PA, please contact your state representative and urge him or her to vote in support of the bill to ban the pigeon shoot.

Please share these videos and take a moment to learn about and support the critically important work done only by SHARK to protect animals who are tormented and killed in the name of sport.


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Birds Rain Down from the Sky during U.S. Senator’s Fundraiser

September 29, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

On September 5th, U.S. Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, hosted a pigeon shooting party to raise funds for his re-election campaign.

hunting fundraiser

In spite of the Senator’s efforts to keep out animal rights activists, an undercover investigator from SHARK infiltrated the event and took close-up footage. During the hunt, 1,000 captive birds were thrown into the sky and shot down. Those who escaped from the killing field with gunshot wounds suffered and died over a period of hours or days.

On Tuesday, SHARK is holding a press conference to announce that it has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding multiple potential violations of state and federal law, including the use of federal property, state employees and government vehicles for a political fundraiser and the transport of pigeons across state lines.

Your Turn

Bob Barker, the former host of the Price is Right, recently narrated a short public service announcement to raise awareness of canned pigeon hunts:

Please share these videos and take a moment to learn about the critically important work done only by SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect & Kindness) to protect animals who are tormented and killed in canned hunts, rodeos, and other exploitive “sports.”


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