This is an example of where animal rights have trumped, through necessary force, freedom of expression as enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York is staging an exhibition by Chinese artists who have emerged in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square.
Animal rights activists objected to three of the so called works of art. As a consequence they have been pulled from the exhibition because of ‘threats’. I agree with the animal advocates, I have to confess. Two videos featured dogs and pigs. The third art installation showed insects and reptiles fighting for survival. I can image how objectionable these ‘art installations’ are. They ‘enable cruelty to animals’ says Stephen Eisenman, a professor of art history at Northwestern University (he was not one of the animal rights protestors as I understand it). I agree with him. I agree that if art encourages animal cruelty it should not be exhibited. I shouldn’t be described as art. Art can be anything you want it to be and it can also be reclassified as rubbish.
Curators of the Guggenheim are dismayed. They say:
“Although these works have been exhibited in museums in Asia, Europe and the US, the Guggenheim regrets that explicit and repeated threats of violence have made our decision necessary.”
Previous exhibitions do not validify the present one. Sometimes you have to fight violence (against animals) with violence; fire with fire. There is no alternative. You have to break the entrenched habits of humans to force them to respect animals.
An online petition against the three offending ‘art’ works has gathered 700,000 signatures.
The famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei believes that it is tragic for modern society that the Guggenheim cannot exercise its right to free speech. I disagree, sometimes that most important of rights can and should be trumped by something equally important. The right to freedom of expression is not inviolable and sacrosanct.