Sunday, March 30, 2008

What Art is Not

The San Francisco Art Institute mounted an exhibit which was to run through May 31st entitled "Don't Trust Me." It comprised video images of six different animals, a doe, a goat, a horse, an ox, a pig, and a sheep being bludgeoned to death with a large sledgehammer by Adel Abdessemed of Paris, who calls himself an "artist."

This sick exhibit is nothing more than a disgusting attempt to pass off the brutal abuse and killing of animals as legitimate art. It is not art by any definition, but butchery.

What such "artists" and their patrons choose to overlook is that animals are living beings who feel and suffer. We are no more justified in taking their lives than in killing another person. Such abuse of animals may elicit horror and disgust in viewers, but that does not qualify it as art. In fact, it represents the very worst impulses of the human imagination.

It takes no artistic talent to kill animals, and Abdessemed should not have been given a venue for his sickening "work." To its great discredit, SFAI agreed to sponsor this exhibit, lending it an air of credibility, but equally offensive are the obscene rationalizations offered in defense of the snuff films.

These include claims that such killings "regularly take the real world, on a regular basis," and that the installation "makes typical moral and cultural constraints seem beside the point."

Moral constraints are never beside the point. When we become so numb that such brutality does not affect us, we have lost our humanity.

While the exhibit may raise people's consciousness about the daily cruelties committed against animals, it also encourages them to accept such abuse as a way of gaining attention and notoriety.

What is more, to call someone who murders animals an "artist" is an insult to every real artist who declines to rely on violence and shallow, sensationalistic gimmicks to express his or her vision.

What's next -- murdering children?

Amid protests from an organization called In Defense of Animals, the exhibit has been temporarily suspended. The San Francisco Art Institute is holding an open forum tomorrow which will determine whether they reinstate it. I will be there, along with many others, to speak for the animals.


thailandchani said...

(standing up, applauding vigorously)


Any time we "other" another being, it increases the separation that makes it possible to harm ourselves, each other or the beings who live among us.

Anonymous said...

That's just shocking. How awful - for the animals and the animal who did that. Doing something like that changes a person - it's like torturing another. It creates an unhealable swatch across one's soul.

RED MOJO said...

I can't even read about this. I would not think twice about bludgeoning that "artist". That's the sad truth. I am enraged, and sickened.
I could never be one of those animal rescue police because I just couldn't contain my anger.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

So unspeakably disturbing. I cannot even fathom what could be in someone's mind, heart, and soul to even think of such a thing.

Absolutely disgusting.

The CEO said...

Say It's mother and sister have a non-profit organization devoted to the ethical slaughter of animals for protein, so there is concern as to how we convert animals to food requirements. That concern goes back some five thousand years to the Laws of Kasheras derived from the Old Testament.

We do not make art of such matters.

I wish I was with you tomorrow. This is something that will make me think of you for a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

I'm absolutely appalled. I cannot believe that this person is able to pass as an artist. Even if you don't believe that animals don't feel emotions, that kind of violence is in no way justified. I don't see what artistic purpose this serves.

Unknown said...

How gross!!! I hope the people who decided that this was a good idea rethink such things in the future. I am really suprised that this was exhibited in SF of all places.

EsLocura said...

gross, yucky, horrible. good for you for standing up and helping (I wouldn't expect anything else from you)

Anonymous said...

I'm very keen on art and I define what constitutes art pretty broadly, but I fail to see how animals being massacred can in any way be artistic. Good for you going to the forum to protest.

Maria said...

Do you ever wonder what aliens think of us? I mean, they come to visit our planet and see this kind of shit and go back and tell their people about us......

heartinsanfrancisco said...


If everyone really understood that we are all connected, we would treat each other more kindly.


It won't go well for those who torture helpless animals. Eventually, they will be tortured, not out of vengeance but so that they will learn.

Karma is not "getting even."' It is lessons in life.


There is so much cruelty in the world. It's important to take a stand, no matter how painful it is.


I'm not sure such people have hearts, but if they do, they're not using them.


We can get all the protein we need from the vegetable world. It is not necessary to slaughter animals, humanely or not, to supplement our diets.

Rough House,

How can anyone believe that animals don't have feelings? Nothing justifies such cruelty, and to call it art is just insulting our intelligence.

Thank you for your visit.


I'm surprised, too. I should have thought they would know better, and do better.


Yeah, I tilt at windmills a lot.


By no stretch would I consider slaughter art. I cannot imagine what they were thinking - if indeed they were.


As far as I know, they don't stay long. They probably consider us far too primitive to be interesting, or to engage with.

Angela said...

Wow. I'm speechless. Thanks so much for talking about it and informing all those of us who didn't know. Completely reprehensible.

meno said...

Thank you for going and speaking.

Jay said...

Poor goat.

I really don't get people sometimes.

A lot of the time, really.

Mon said...

That is just horrible. It's really hard for me to believe that the SFAI allowed such an exhibit. Seems to me that just glorifies the killing of animals for fun. Good for you for going to protest, I would as well if I still lived there. The thought that they could call this art is very disturbing indeed.

Please post an update after the meeting.

Anonymous said...

Oh God, ust reading this twists my gut. It's horrifying. And I would have felt that just as strongly when I was a meat eater. It is just purely wrong that they even agreed to host the exhibit. I hope you let us know what happens after the protest.

Echomouse said...

Dear God, I just saw the photo and had to look away. That's just sickening. That is not art. It's like when they try to pass porn as art...drives me crazy.

Good on you for speaking out about this!!! I'm really sorry you had to experience this. It's awful. {Hug}

molly said...

Has the SFAI lost their collective mind? giving legitimacy to such a sadist??

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yes. Reprehensible. Grotesque. Obscene.

I'm really sick of the human race.


It has to be done.


Poor goat, and deer, and horse, poor all of them.

We are a very messed up species. We have so many natural gifts that there is simply no excuse for such abuse.


I will post an update, of course.

It's really hard to understand how such behavior passes for fun.

Thanks for coming by today.


I'm a vegetarian, but not everyone who eats meat is a brutal savage. I think that most people would be as offended as we are by this.


It IS porn of a sort. These are snuff films. Can there be anything worse?


Apparently so. And "sadist" is the right word, not "artist." Such similar spellings... I can see how they got confused.

Liz Dwyer said...

Thank goodness they've suspended this "exhibit". I can't believe the folks at the museum would even think torturing animals is art. And how do people even look at the photos? How sick the "artist" must be.

Bob said...

I am speechless.

raise my voice with yours.

Danielle said...

Oh I wish I was still living in CA, I'd be at the front of the protestors with the biggest, loudest, booming voice imaginable. This is horrific! And I am so tired of "artists" pawning off lazy, unjustified, unoriginal brutality as "art", and saying that it's a comment on the human condition. What? That any idiot with little to no brain cells can kill something and call it art!?! 'Cause that's the ONLY comment I see here!

Anonymous said...

Nice post! I'm with you, nice job! I hope the exhibit doesn't push through at all. I want to believe that ART allows us to celebrate life...and not the other way around.

furiousBall said...

That's disgusting. Although if that tool wants to call that art, I want a chance to swing a sledhammer at Adel Abdessemed of Paris. It's only fair.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It needs to stay suspended.

And they're not photos, the exhibit consists of six giant tv's with the snuff videos, one per animal.

Sick, sick, sick.


I will. Thanks.


I love what you said about art celebrating life. I've always thought of it that way, too.


I'm with you all the way. The guy belongs in prison, not in an art gallery.

If his plan is to desensitize us to violence, it's not working.

Unknown said...

Wow! Speaking as a fervent protector of the artist and a someone especially sensitive to censorship of any kind I have to say that I am behind you 100%. That isn't art, it's criminal. If he was killing people and photographing it would we give him this kind of voice?
It's sick.
I will be there with you inspirit when you speak tonight.

Jameil said...

what in the heck... who calls a bludgeoning art? that's gross.

Dianne said...

I am there with you in spirit!

Anonymous said...

"Self expression" is hard to squish and "art" is hard to define, but I am perplexed beyond belief if this is all this guy has to say. Surely he has greater depth to him, a unique thought or idea in which to make his art.

And if this guys decides this is the best he can do, it truly boggles ones mind this the the best the SF Art Institute can come up. Goodness me.

Are they both that desparate for publicity?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I am strongly opposed to censorship, too, but I think that in order to censor art, you first have to recognize that something IS art.

Brutally murdering helpless animals fits no definition I know of art.


Yes. It's gross and also a gross misinterpretation of anything remotely artistic.


Good. The more the um, merrier?


Well, they got their publicity. And it lasted about 15 minutes. See post above.

Rebecca said...

Wow, that is truly appalling! I can't believe ANYONE would consider this art. I believe in the first amendment, in that he has the right to create what he will. But it doesn't mean we need to give him an audience. I mean, did he really use live animals, and record their murder? Why? How could he do that? Isn't that how serial killers start? GAH!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I suppose I am going down as an enemy of the First Amendment, but I do not believe he has the right to murder animals in the name of art or anything else.

Where is the line between doing so and murdering people for artistic expression?

I think the First Amendment was meant to apply only when nobody was being hurt or killed. For me, that changes everything.

Nobody should be free enough to kill with impunity. Although I would never hunt, I do not argue with the right of others to do so for food, but wanton slaughter of animals to make videos - there is no justification at all in that.

Christy said...

Even with the disturbing images of his depicition of murdered animals, he also has artwork of harmed naked people, of butcher knives stabbing in "artful" forms. It's disgusting. And personally, if I came across someone who considered this art I would be afraid and suspicious of that person.

For instance, imagine a scenario in which a child has gone missing. People in the area were questioned. One person's car was searched. In the car the police find pictures of brutally murdered animals, naked people and butcher knives. The man claims these are "Art." Would you or would you not consider that person an immediate suspect in the missing child case?

Jocelyn said...

The very idea has made me nauseous.

Odat said...

I'm glad you' speak for the animals.... ;-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I think the guy is a psychopath, not an artist.

And I'm disgusted with those who think that anything different and daring is art. Glorifying brutality makes us lesser beings.


Me, too. Quite nauseous.


I would prefer in this instance to bite someone for the animals.

MartiniCocoa said...

speechless. speechless that someone would think thatit's art and that an institution would find a way to justify exhibiting it.

I'm glad that the exhibit was cancelled but what about the trustees and board of the museum who seem to feel courting controversy is more important than exhibiting real art?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I totally agree with you, of course.

It's obscene that anyone would think torturing animals to death is anything other than vicious and inhumane cruelty.