Everyone’s favorite anonymous graffiti artist/activist has turned his analytical eye toward the meat industry. Banksy, the probable British artist known for his hidden identity and politically-charged spray paint satire, has momentarily stopped the illuminating public vandalization to trot out a bizarre mobile art installation in New York City. In a green truck that could have carried supplies during World War II, Banksy stuffed a cadre of animatronic stuffed animals; mooing, squawking, and bleating as they hang out of the truck in horror, all in an effort to raise awareness about factory farmed animals.
Banksy has been tagging New York City for weeks on his “Better Out Than In” tour, an unofficial residency that has sparked renewed interest in the unknown artist. He’s made a 9/11 tribute, taken on McDonald’s with a cartoon-like sculpture, painted urinating dogs, and generally gotten under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s skin. This latest mobile piece will make people think without defacing any public property.
The piece—called “Sirens of the Lambs”— will be scuttling around New York City for two weeks, and appropriately enough, began its journey in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan. Via a phone number on the side of the truck, streetwalkers can dial in to listen to an audio companion about the piece. The cheeky narrator wonders if the piece is a bit “subtle,” and we also learn Banksy worked in a butcher shop as a younger man, “an experienced that seems to have resonated with him.”
Animals raised for slaughter are generally treated in an awful manner. They’re bred to be fat, and thusly fed copious amounts of food—usually corn because it’s cheap and prevalent—and often only physically move a few feet from birth to death. When kept in close quarters with their fellow species, animals become stressed out and attack each other. That’s why they often have their beaks, tails, and teeth are removed—without painkillers. (Shock from teeth removal is a common cause of death among piglets.)
Even if you don’t care about animal cruelty solely for the fact that they are just animals, you might develop some compassion when you contract a disease from eating tainted factory-farmed meat. The more confined an animal is, the more the risk of viral mutation occurs, putting the human population’s health in jeopardy with a possible spread of the avian flu, E.coli, or any number of unsavory viruses.
Bansky’s spotlight on animal cruelty isn’t revealing anything we didn’t already know; the documentary section of Netflix is ripe with food and farming commentaries. But there has yet to be a more disquieting, creepy, and hilarious take on the flawed farm industry as Banksy’s “Sirens of the Lambs.” Maybe his next piece will involve the removal of all the carbon from our atmosphere that his semi-truck emitted. I can be snarky too, Banksy.
October 17th, 2013