New “art” exhibit opened this week in Philadelphia. As the cradle of liberty, home of Independence Hall and site of the birth of the American republic, the City of Brotherly Love has every right to host what is being called “The Ghosts of Our Meat.”
Just don’t expect me to show a whole lotta love for the perpetrator, British artist Sue Coe, who’s turned his distaste for animal agriculture into a cottage industry. Her current exhibition features dozens of paintings and prints that, to quote her self-serving news release, “addresses issues of animal rights, animal cruelty the meatpacking industry and the ethics of meat consumption.”
The scenes include debeaking (“a cruel process done to production chickens”), and skinning fur-bearing animals for their pelts.
Coe is also the author of several books, including “Dead Meat,” a screed documenting her visits to feedyards and packing plants. Her philly.com review quotes a Prof. Stephen Eisenman saying that Coe’s art should inspire viewers to understand that “the slaughter of an animal becomes murder, the butchering a desecration and the sale and consumption of meat something ghoulish or macabre.”
I’m guessing the good professor is a born-again veggie believer.
The fawning review of Coe’s artistic renderings also noted that “her powerful images have appeared in the New York Times and Rolling Stone, which doesn’t exactly span the spectrum of literary and intellectual publishing.
Worst of all, the showcased painting used to illustrate her exhibit is—literally—straight out of the late 19th century, with workers hand-skinning cattle with knives and a cow appearing to be still alive, lying on a stone floor and bleeding into a floor drain a few feet away.
Those were unacceptable conditions a century ago, much less representative of anything remotely resembling modern meatpacking operations.
Look, I’ll make it simple for all those who buy into Coe’s holier than thou take on food production. Either we’re understanding of and respectful to Homo sapiens’ role in the planetary ecosystem, or we’re some sort of super-beings who are exempt from the laws of Nature that govern all life on Earth.
If the latter is true, then Coe and her supporters/apologists can make the case that our superior science, technology and sheer ambition qualifies our species for a pass from both the rewards and responsibilities accorded all other species—predator and prey—that populate the continents and oceans.