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Dark Mofo’s slaughtered bull and the ethics of using animals in art

John Hadley: ‘In a three-hour show scheduled at Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art in June, Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch plans to use the blood of a slaughtered bull to explore ancient ritual and spiritual sacrifice. Nitsch is hoping to serve the meat of the animal to the audience at the Dark Mofo festival following the performance. The plan has met with criticism from animal rights activists, the RSPCA, and the broader community. But it is far from the first, or worst, use of animals for art and human satisfaction. MONA founder David Walsh’s defence of Nitsch’s work in response to the controversy seems to be based on two ideas: the function of art is to raise challenging questions, and it’s legal for people to eat animals, suggesting hypocrisy in a willingness to eat them but reject their use in art…

Walsh is right to decry the hypocrisy of people who express outrage at Nitsch’s work yet continue to support the suffering and death of animals through their dietary choices. Still, without expecting Nitsch and Walsh to be moral saints, I’d argue they have not drawn the line in a moral way. Yes, it might be legal to do what Nitsch is doing, and yes, people around the world eat animals, but legality does not equal morality… As philosophers such as Peter Singer and Tom Regan have pointed out, as rule of thumb we respect animals when we leave them be’. SOURCE…

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