Anna Gregoline | October 27, 2004
(Warning: might make some people feel oogy.)

Take a look at this: Nathalia Edenmont, an artist who kills animals for her artwork. Here is a statement from the gallery about her work.

Do you feel that it is ethical to kill animals solely for a work of art? What do you think of her pictures?

Kris Weberg | October 27, 2004
If it's an attempt, as the gallery claims, to protest our double standard in killing animals by...uh...killing them, it seems a bit self-defeating at best and morally repugnant at worst.

And it it's not, the aesthetic isn't all that formally innovative once the "she stuck an animal head there!" shock wears off. The contrast of soft, "lifelike" textures with hard, smooth surfaces and geometric forms has been done many time sbefore, and without the animal butchery.

Anna Gregoline | October 27, 2004
Personally, I think it's rather beautiful. It's nothing earth-shattering art-wise, but I like the interplay, like the mice coming out of the eggshells. I like things that are arranged as if you're in the middle of a scene. And it works for a second until you remember they're dead.

I don't know. All the places I saw this posted, there were tons of people condemming her and saying she should be arrested. She's done nothing wrong and not broken any laws, if she is correct in killing the animals humanely.

I LOVE animals. I guess I'm surprised at my lack of affect over this. I don't really think that it's justified per se, to kill animals for the express purpose of art, but I don't think she's a monster for some reason.

A vet was NOT present during the killing of the animals, and she was reported because of this.

I'm trying to find out more information about the artist and see if she has an artist's statement anywhere but I can't find anything.

Ah, finally something.

Anna Gregoline | October 27, 2004
Ok, now I think she's kind of crazy:

The Ukraine-born, Sweden-based artist Nathalia Edenmont defended her work against animal-rights protesters in December by claiming a higher virtue in killing animals if she does it to make an artistic point. Her latest artistic points (according to the owner of the Stockholm gallery exhibiting Edenmont's work): Her photo of a hand with dead mice stuck on each finger represents the five stars of the former Soviet Union, which Edenmont believes was responsible for her mother's murder, and a photo of several dead mice all pointing in the same direction represents the "cowardice" of Swedish society.


I still can't shake the beauty I see in some of this though. Perhaps my boyfriend is right - I'm obsessed with death.

Perhaps it would sit better if she used animals that were already dead. Many of my favorite collage artists use bones and stuff like that. It seems that the killing of the animals is the "art" thought here, and that's pretty lame.

However, I think it's hypocritical for some of the people I've seen commenting on this (calling for her to be arrested, killed, butchered, etc), when many of them are admitted meat eaters.

Kris Weberg | October 27, 2004
I have a leather jacket. I eat meat. I support medical testing on animals, where the side effects of the drugs involved could seriously harm humans. But I can point to some kind of function, however tenuous, in all those things. I can't find something like that in this art -- perhaps people are hypocritical with regard to the killing of animals, but I have to admit, "aesthetics" ranks near the bottom of my list of reasons to kill animals, right above 'for fun' and "I saw in on MTV."

There's nothing done here that couldn't be done with already-dead animals. Even the basic point could have been made using, say, animal corpses put down at the pound. The point, the entire point, seems to be the killing itself.

And that says a lot about the artist.

Anna Gregoline | October 27, 2004
I think if it was digital she still could have made her points. The method of the art is the only "meaning" here. I call foul on this now too.

I'm still curious about her other artwork, which has nothing to do with this.

Kris Weberg | October 27, 2004
It's another case of a good point being made in so violently and deliberately provocative a way that the point vanishes amidst the provocation.

Amy Austin | October 27, 2004
As a former art student, my thoughts/feelings on this materialized right in sync with the evolution of your discussion...

I agree with you, Anna that the pictures are aesthetically pleasing -- though not, in fact, "groundbreaking" -- and they hardly justify her means in "making a statement". I also agree with every point that Kris mentions... except the animal testing bit -- but that's a whole 'nother tangent that I'm not sure I feel like visiting right now.

I think the fact that someone paid that kind of money for this artwork makes another statement, too -- one that bothers me quite a bit. Love her comment about the price doubling, too. Gag. How can you make art that supposedly points the finger at hypocrisy, while fully engaged in the act yourself? Is there supposed to be some valor or redemption in her "honesty"? I guess I just don't "get it", either.

Jackie Mason | October 27, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | October 27, 2004
I love animals, and I don't like the idea of this - but I wasn't sickened by the photos. Maybe because they are so stylized, and therefore feel less real? I'm not sure. I didn't get that grotesque feeling looking at this - I didn't feel any more sick than I do looking at traditional taxidermy.

Jackie Mason | October 27, 2004
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Kris Weberg | October 27, 2004
Myabe the problem can be stated another way -- art is, in a lot of people's minds, what we produce when we are, even for a moment, beyond the needs of mere survival.

For survival, or somehign that resembles it, we can tolerate killing even if we don't always valorize it.

For what we consider luxury, we now almost never tolerate killing; and as I said, many of us figure art as the expression of pure luxury, or at least of the surpassing of mere survival.

Amy Austin | October 28, 2004
Okay, so we are all in agreement here that whatever "statement" is trying to be made by killing animals for artwork really sucks. But as I was telling my husband about this thread and the responses to it, we had another thought...

First -- on the nature of the aesthetics -- try to completely disengage yourself from the idea of her killing explicitly for the sake of the artwork. I think Anna & I are in agreement that the work could still be considered visually appealing, were it not for the killing aspect. So, really... try to segregate that from the photos and then honestly answer the question of aesthetic appeal. Can the photos stand on their own as something of visual interest/beauty, or is your reaction based purely on the knowledge of the means? Would it be "okay" if you knew that the animals were not really harvested for the sake of the photos, but rather merely collected and assembled as "found art" (from the pound, for instance) or perhaps even digitally created... would you still find them repugnant?

What I am getting to is this: what if the killing of the animals is a contrived publicity stunt? What if she doesn't really kill them at all, but in fact, the controversy stirred by her presentation as such, is a planned and, therefore, desirable & profitable outcome? Does her work still (or "now", rather, for those of us who are appalled) have merit if, in fact, she is "pulling our (collective) leg", so to speak? Is it "art" without all the controversy... or just some interesting/disgusting photos???

What if, after all the controversy that can possibly be milked, this comes to a head where Miss Edenmont admits that the photos are, in fact, digtal montages, and no killings have been done at all? How would that make you feel about her statement then? (Manipulated? Hypocritical? Jaded?) What about her business sense or reputation as an "artist"?

Just something else to think about...

Jackie Mason | October 30, 2004
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Amy Austin | October 30, 2004
Yes, I totally agree with you on that one, Jackie -- in fact, the biggest fear I have about trying to make my living as an artist is not being able to part with what I feel are my best efforts and/or getting what I feel those efforts are worth!

It seems that there are as many motivating factors as there are styles for artists... personally, I don't understand some of them (in particular, art as destruction, rather than creation), but it doesn't necessarily mean that I object. In this case, though, I can't possibly appreciate her motivations if they really do involve killing animals just for the hell of it -- and though I do think it would be a good laugh on some of the more hysterical critics if it turns out that she is lying, I still think it's kind of sick to resort to that sort of trickery just to make a point about hypocrisy... I think the critics are well-justified in their moral outrage, but I think that they should definitely have all the facts before possibly embarassing themselves.

I know it might seem a little unrelated and more appropriate for the horror flick thread, but I found myself making certain connections between the art and movie worlds -- along these same lines of creation & destruction, positive/negative energy, and "good" vs. "evil"-- after seeing "Saw" tonight. What a movie *that* was. I will refrain from spoiling it for anyone, but the parallels that I drew came from thinking about the impact of the "Hollywood ending" on society. More on that here or in the other thread when a few others have seen it...

Jackie Mason | October 30, 2004
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Amy Austin | October 30, 2004
I hear you, Jackie -- full on, I hear ya'! I, too, went for the "practical" art degree of graphic design -- although, in addition to the appeal of being a "pre-professional" degree, I also loved the fact that it allowed for studios in multiple disciplines, instead of focusing on one medium. So... to answer your question, I don't have a favored medium -- I have dabbled in and love them all! But, most decidedly, I prefer the 2D arts, since that is what I'm better at... but I haven't really taken the time to develop my 3D strengths, either -- probably because the drawing/painting came more naturally for me. My younger sister, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite... she is quite the ceramicist, and I am envious of that (but she can't draw as well as I can, so I guess that probably makes her a little jealous, too!)

Then, of course, when I dropped out of UF, I tried for 4 years to make a living at whatever one can find in a college town (yes, I waited some tables) -- and I thought I had finally "made it" into a field I could enjoy when I worked a couple of jobs with 2 different theming companies (one being an off-shoot of the other, though). The pay was the best I had made at that point, and it was a job that exploited artistic talent (not to be confused with "creative" talent!) -- it was kind of like being one of Andy Warhol's factory girls... ;D

"Theming" -- in case it isn't obvious -- is just what it sounds like... I helped paint large-scale murals and construct huge fiberglass sculptures/environments for amusement parks, zoos, museums, and other such attractions. We liked to say that we were in the "fake rock & tree business" -- but it was much more than that. The most notable things I had a hand in was Sea World's "Journey to Atlantis" ride and Universal Studios "Islands of Adventure" park (which I *still* have not been to enjoy!). The dream ended when I was laid off from the second job after the end of the Universal contract... I never even got any complimentary passes, either (bastards). Don't know if the rest of the crew did, but that's why I've never been. It was especially disheartening, as I had just come back from my very first paid vacation *ever* (my measuring stick of "making it") -- two weeks for Christmas/New Year's. I came in on the 4th, all rested and ready to go, and was told "Happy New Year! You don't work here anymore." Had I known that, I'd have spend the time job-hunting instead of buying a bunch of "Christmas joy"!!! Bastards.

Two weeks later, I was signing on the dotted line for Uncle Sam... and I chose the job that seemed the most applicable for my background (photographer) in the branch that I thought would keep me near my native coastal environment (the Navy), which made it all the easier for me to earn "distinguished honor graduate" from my training (THE most fun I had in all my 5 years in the Navy, BTW...) -- and now here I am, out and unemployed again. It's a weird feeling, too, since 5 years is the longest I haven't had to worry about finding another job! I'm not liking it, but at least I have the cushion of marriage this time -- thus allowing me greater ability to *reflect and select* my next "adventure" and sparing me a bit of the "sweat" and panic... which is just the worst. I would really like to make the bold leap back into doing art, but I'm not sure exactly what... since I've been pretty inactive, artistically speaking, all this time. I bought a bunch of acrylic paints that I've been doing a little bit of fun stuff with (painting Bettie Page on a straw purse, for instance)... but my love of all media makes me want to do something more expansive" and multi-media, especially with my photography skills. I just don't know yet, and it's a little bit on hold right now, too, since I'm about to make *another* move back to the East Coast (NC). We'll see what happens when I get there! But thanks, Jackie -- I'll talk art any time you like!

Jackie Mason | November 2, 2004
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Amy Austin | November 2, 2004
"You know, I always see those navy photographer job postings, but I never knew anyone [dumb enough to get] involved..."

Heeheehee -- sorry, Jackie... just wanted to show you what I caught at just a glance of your last (I thought it was funny -- hope you do, too!)

What you photograph depends entirely on where you are/what type of billet you fill. I spent about 4 out of 5 years on an aircraft carrier, where I shot a variety of things: re-ups (Navy shorthand for re-enlistment ceremonies), retirements, awards... anything ceremonious, basically. Changes of command, ambassadorial parties, you name it -- there's a photographer on hand. Re-ups probably account for the majority of those types of things (think of it as your roller-coaster shot at the amusement park... it's a standard set of three shots that they give to everyone as a "souvenir" of their re-enlistment), but there's also daily operational crap: on a carrier, that would primarily be the launch & recovery of aircraft, but also any special exercises (can be anything from SWARMEX -- a simulated small boat/swimmer attack on the carrier -- to joint vessel operations...either within the fleet, or involving other countries). There's actually a lot to take pictures of, but it can (and does) get old after a while of doing it on the same platform for more than a couple of years.

Almost any kind of "public affairs" photo you see comes from Photographer's Mates -- aerial shots of the ship/fleet, etc. Portions of the movie "Behind Enemy Lines" was filmed on my ship (before I arrived, however), and one of the guys in my lab got to be an extra in the return scene with Gene Hackman -- you can see his head in between Gene & Owen Wilson's if you pause it... he's all cammied out, though, so you wouldn't notice unless you were looking for him... but still a cool thing! My lab took all kinds of pics when they were there filming, and when the film was released (I was there for that part), David Keith came to visit, and mucho pics were taken then as well. Another film crew came out for a movie called "Stealth" -- but I'm still waiting to hear whatever becomes of that footage... I may have a brief blur of a cameo in it. We'll see. ;>

Some of the highlights from when I was on shore: the first Chinese port visit in something like 50 years -- a "small boy" came to Everett, WA in 2000 as part of like a peace tour... big news & coverage there. Also, that P-3 that went down in China was from a squadron out of Whidbey Island -- the domain of my facility's supervising command. I didn't provide any coverage for that event, but when I saw the pics of the crew members, I did discover that one of them had been in my boot camp division... small Navy!

So, to answer your question, Jackie... almost anything and everything -- whatever of possible Naval interest is currently going on at given moment.

Aaron Fischer | November 3, 2004
Animals aren't art! They're FOOD!

Todd Brotsch | November 3, 2004
Funny, I remember some people going to jail and being shuned for eating some animals...

Dahmer, Donners and Lecter.

Aaron Fischer | November 4, 2004
I'll take my lamb chops extra rare, with a side of fava beans and a nice chianti. :)


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