‘Siren of the Lambs’ is in essence a depressed and weathered green slaughterhouse delivery truck, labelled Farm Fresh Meats, crammed with 60 cuddly soft toys on the road to a (sic) death. The collection of stuffed animals are accompanied by a variety of screams and squeals playing in the background as they stick their heads and snouts through the slits in their mobile prison.
“Animal advocacy, like other social justice movements, asks us to confront difficult realities, but the ultimate reward goes to those who have the courage to witness because seeing things as they really are liberates us from oppression. Silence and denial keep oppression alive, and breaking that silence and denial disempowers it.” Robert Grillo
The following is excerpted from Robert Grillo’s new book Farm to Fable: The Fictions of Our Animal-Consuming Culture,due out Summer, 2016.
It appears that most children are born with an innate empathy for animals. They learn prejudice and discrimination based on race, sex, and species from the adult world. For example, when I was a child, I recall being taken to petting zoos on school field trips where we were given strict guidelines for how to interact compassionately with the animals. But then, later that evening, we would be served the same animals we were told to respect when alive. What seemed like baffling hypocrisy to me then is a testament to how powerful cultural and social forces lead us to turn against our hearts and minds, especially when it comes to the animals we eat. And even more startling is how widespread and consistent this phenomenon is in all of the animal-eating cultures of the world. The question I have grappled with for years now is: how can this conditioning work so well on so many of us for so long?
This question is central to the film, The Matrix. While most narratives from popular culture are carefully crafted around what we want to see, hear, and believe, The Matrix asks us to question what we’ve been taught, to separate what is illusion from what is real, what is oppression from what is freedom. And The Matrix is all the more important because of its notoriety as a cult classic. In the film, Morpheus explains to Neo that the Matrix is a simulated reality based on what the world was like in 1999, into which harvested humans are pacified and trapped as slaves by the sentient machines of their own creation. Morpheus and his followers make up a rebel group who hack into the Matrix and “unplug” enslaved humans and recruit them as rebels. Morpheus becomes convinced that Neo is “The One” prophesied to end the war between humans and machines. In one defining moment, he offers Neo a choice to take the red pill or the blue pill, explaining that taking the red pill will reveal the truth about reality.
RSPCA Australia has congratulated the Coalition for listening to Australians’ concerns about the use of live animals in cosmetics testing, with its announcement that it will introduce legislation to ban the practice, as well as the sale of cosmetics tested on animals from July 2017.
An estimated 27,000 animals are still being used for cosmetics testing across the world. This includes the use of mice, rats and rabbits in tests which can cause pain and distress.
While cosmetic companies don’t test their products on animals here in Australia many well-known brands do test their products or ingredients on animals elsewhere in the world which then end up for sale on our shelves. There is much debate surrounding a need for legislative change to stop this, which is fantastic, but we think cosmetic products that have been tested on animals should not be sold anywhere in the world. There are already more than 20,000 chemical ingredients available to producers of cosmetics products that are considered to be safe, so there is no excuse for any more animals to suffer.
Until there is a complete ban on animal testing the RSPCA has offered a list of companies you should be aware of as a consumer, to voice your concern or show your support by not buying their product.
British photographer Nick Brandt has been making intimate portraits of East African animals for close to two decades.
In that time, many of the places he works have been transformed by rapid development, and the environmental devastation that often comes with it.
Now, in a new book and series of international exhibitions is called Inherit the Dust, Brandt attempts to show what habitat destruction looks like by placing giant portraits of animals in landscapes where they used to roam.