Veganism and contemporary art

Contemporary art often touches upon the ethical treatment of animals, the protection of animal rights and, of course, vegetarian and vegan nutrition. These days, vegan art is much more than just photo collages and “motivators” posted on Facebook or Instagram. The creative “cuisine” of the creators of vegan art is perhaps no poorer than the palette of vegan dishes! It:

  • and painting,

  • and digital art (including photography, video, projections, etc.),

  • and voluminous installations and sculpture,

  • as well as dramatic performances, performances!

The line between art and vegan protests is quite thin – after all, who did not admire watching GREENPEACE activists boycott including “spill concerns” , often at great risk to their lives (and at the risk of getting)! Or they arrange a live concert of modern classical music with the participation of a famous composer – on a tiny raft near a melting iceberg in the Arctic … Video recordings of such actions – regardless of what is happening in the frame – are, in fact, also modern multimedia, “digital” art. At the same time, it happens that such performances balance on the very edge of both laws and common sense, risking just a little more – and sliding into bad taste and offensive to other people “punk prayers”. But – such is the spirit of the times, and vegans, by definition, are at the forefront, at the very crest of the information wave!

For example, the sensational action of the British green movement activist Jacqueline Trade evokes strong and controversial feelings. She expressed her outrage at animal testing of cosmetics in the form of an infamous dramatic production. The action was held in London, UK, on ​​the carefree-bourgeois Regent Street, in the showcase of the LUSH cosmetics salon: their products are not tested on animals. Two actors took part in the production: a ruthless “doctor” in a surgical bandage on his face spent 10 hours (!) “testing” brightly colored “makeup” on a resisting but defenseless “victim” (J. Trade herself), dressed in bodysuits colors. (See the video and for 4 minutes with activists’ comments). The action gathered a crowd of perplexed people with phones: some were crying in shock from what they saw! – who were then invited to sign a petition in defense of the adoption of a law banning testing of cosmetics on animals. Activists explained to those who are not aware that such a bill has been considered in the UK for … 30 years, and without any shift towards a final decision. During the 10 hours that the scandalous action lasted (and was broadcast online), the indefatigable masked doctor subjected 24-year-old Jacqueline to many of the things that are usually done to animals during cosmetics testing: tying, force-feeding, giving injections, shaving her head and smeared with multi-colored creams … At the end of the tedious performance, Jacqueline, muffled by a gag, was: she hurt herself, resisting the injection of the “doctor”. This bright and nerve-wracking action, which got into and caused a mixed reaction of shock and approval, in a sense, balances on the verge of masochism. But Jacqueline proved that courage and self-sacrifice are available not only to GREENPEACE wrestlers. And most importantly, the suffering of experimental animals cannot be hidden by the walls of laboratories.

Shocking the viewer is a favorite technique of vegan art: partly because people, by nature, are thick-skinned. But not all vegan “motivators” are aggressive! So, on the Internet, especially on English-language resources, it is easy to find virtual “galleries” of quite aesthetic paintings, drawings and photo collages dedicated to the ideas of ethical treatment of animals and “clean”, kill-free nutrition. For example, you can find such on,, on the network (selection),,. The works exhibited in the virtual handmade galleries on , you can not only view (and download as digital pictures), but also purchase. Many of the things presented on the Internet can be shown to children – although not all!

What about adults? Although many vegan art works are clearly made literally on the spur of the moment and “on the knee”, individual ideological works are real art! Like, for example, the large-scale Chinese artist Liu Qiang: she depicts a suffering cow, from which an insatiable and greedy humanity sucks milk. This sculpture, oddly titled “29 Hours 59 Minutes 59 Seconds,” is meant to draw public attention to the fact that we are heavily dependent on animals that we exploit or even consume for food… The work is united not only by high craftsmanship, but also by a humanistic and pro-vegan overtones.

But sometimes even professional artists go too far in their attempts to express the pain, fear, and suffering of animals sacrificed to the appetites of humanity. So, for example, Simon Birch (Simon Birch) in June 2007 in order to shoot a video for his art installation in Singapore. The artist, who is a vegetarian, explained such an act as an “artistic necessity” …

A lot of controversy was caused by another – albeit bloodless! – a vegan project, namely a comic. Comic book author Priya “Yerdian” Cynthia Kishna has garnered a lot of angry comments from both meat eaters and vegans and vegetarians themselves, many of which consistently (in Wiki format!) Priya for the wretchedness of “logical” arguments, violence, sexual aggression and feminist comic book subtext. And this is among other factors that reduce the aesthetic and ideological value of the famous web project. The radical idea promoted by the comics that supposedly all people are born Fruitarians is not based on scientific evidence! – also did not find encouragement even among the most radical vegans. As a result, the ultra-radical comic “Vegan Artbook” turned out to be even for American feminists, who noted the obvious caricature of the attacks of the heroine of the comic on male omnivores, personifying absolute evil in the comic. Indeed, such an aggressive pro-vegan campaign, as in the VEGAN ARTBOOK comic, only spoils the image of vegans and vegetarians themselves …

Fortunately, VEGAN ARTBOOK is just the tip of a giant iceberg of media art on the topic of veganism and vegetarianism that has become the focus of public attention. At the same time, it is digital art – which vegans often resort to – that is perhaps the most accessible means of conveying the idea of ​​​​ethical treatment of animals to the general public. After all, expressing your compassion for animals in works of art, it is important not to cause even more harm …. the very act of creativity! After all, if you figure out that such art materials as oil paints and pastels, canvas, colored pencils, watercolor paper, photographic film and photographic paper and much more – using animal components!

There is a lot of information on the Internet for ethical artists, including a special one on the PETA website. Although until now, many creative individuals may not suspect that burnt bones, gelatin, and other materials made from the corpses of many, starting with marine life and up to, are hidden in their paints! Artists have a lot of problems with the choice of brushes, the best of which are still being produced. Thus, painting with natural brushes is not much more ethical than buying a fur coat… Unfortunately, even acrylic paints – some sincerely consider them “100% chemical” – are not vegan, because they are not vegan. separate dyes for them all the same. You need to be very careful in choosing materials for creativity! And the good news for vegan artists is that there are 100% vegan alternatives to both materials and brushes (often to buy online from western sites for now) and there are more of them every year.

As for photography, not everything is going smoothly here either: there is simply no ethical film (gelatin is used everywhere), so you need to shoot digitally, and print on synthetic materials: including, for example, polymer film, etc. . – not containing animal components… It’s not easy, but it’s possible! An alternative to modern “synthetics” is only to such “great-grandfather’s” piece methods of photo production, like … In any case, photography can be ethical.

Modern trends in socially significant creativity put creators in front of a number of ethical choices. How to convince the thick-skinned crowd of the right of animals to life and freedom? How to create a work of art without causing indirect harm to animals? How to convey your idea without offending the feelings of the audience? How to create something truly bright, avoiding vulgarity and how to be heard without breaking the law? The struggle of ideas and principles is sometimes so sharp that art finds itself under crossfire. But the more we appreciate his successful examples!  

Leave a Reply