Archive for Monday, March 5, 2012

Chicken stew

It’s OK to kill chickens for food but not for art.

March 5, 2012


Maybe it’s one of those “only in Lawrence” things.

When artist Amber Hansen set out to show us something about the food we eat, where it comes from and what it goes through to get to our tables, well — not so fast! Can’t keep chickens on display here. Can’t butcher them in the city limits. Freedom of expression goes only so far.

Would the city have chickened out? We’ll never know.

Hansen is changing her plans and will work with an empty chicken coop instead of live (and intended-to-be-butchered) birds.

She explained on her blog:

“Through this project, I made a commitment to unveil what I have found to be the abstracted and passive experience of our disengagement with the animals we consume. ‘The Story of Chickens’ intent is to provide an opportunity for this engagement.

“The average American’s interaction with food is at best a passive one. By this I mean that consuming is often reduced to a purely aesthetic experience abstracted from the reality of life and death. I believe our current reliance on factory-farmed animals to be a parasitic relationship. By urging a closer relationship between the consumer and the consumed, I hope to promote a more conscientious and tangible relationship.

“The slaughter of the five chickens meant to take place at the end of the ‘Story of Chickens’ proposed full disclosure of a controversial, yet all too common ethical paradox for the omnivore (for humans to consume meat, an animal must die). The very notion that we can choose to cause a condition, yet refuse to acknowledge or make public its affect and result, veils and censors our connection to that activity. The ‘Story of Chickens’ is in no way meant to dictate or promote ethical stances for or against meat consumption. Its thesis is to promote a closer and sustainable connection to our food, specifically chickens. With this closeness comes the responsibility of realizing and de-abstracting the conditions and origins of that which we choose to consume,” she wrote, adding “The question I had when beginning this project remains: Can a symbiotic relationship between animals and humans be created within the urban landscape?”

Apparently not in Lawrence, at least in 2012. In response to public criticism and city ordinances, she’s modified the project but hopes to get her point across despite the limits placed on her approach.

To her credit, she hasn’t cried “fowl.” Here’s hoping the revised effort doesn’t lay an egg.


thuja 6 years, 3 months ago

Don't get me wrong, I don't eat a lot of meat, but this is ridiculous.

The chickens were going to be eaten.

Every single chicken you eat is killed, every day.

Which are you people more afraid of, seeing where your food comes from, or understanding that art can be just about anything you want it to?

Sushi is edible art, what about the poor fish, you are forgetting about the fish!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

American Style Sushi:

(Eating American Style Sushi Is Strongly Not Recommended!)

parrothead8 6 years, 3 months ago

You can kill chickens for food. You can even invite people in to watch you do it. But don't hide under the guise of calling it art. Killing an animal, for any reason, is not art. It's just killing.

Mark Zwahl 6 years, 3 months ago

I really do wish she had gone ahead with this and let all the protests be part of the project, rather than a distraction. Seems to me the points she was trying to make would have been made even better.

Cai 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't mind the concept itself. But the spencer art museum is not the place. Also, there are city ordinances against the slaughtering animals within city limits for reasons other than to be disconnected. The blood and offal and waste that is generated would need to go somewhere, and it's not sanitary to do in a facility that isn't designed for it. The health problems alone ....

Also, I have a difficult time believing that the negative publicity wasn't expected before the project even began. As it developed, I feel like the artist should have understood that backlash would show up. If she didn't, well... we were all naive once, I suppose.

gr 6 years, 3 months ago

"The blood and offal and waste that is generated would need to go somewhere, and it's not sanitary to do in a facility that isn't designed for it. The health problems alone ...."

You mean like they did in those days when diseases were killing people? But then they vaccinated. But then they also stopped the filth. Did the vaccines work or did the elimination of filth work? If the vaccines worked, why worry about filth today?

gr 6 years, 3 months ago

I know! The city should support the complaint of killing the chickens and ban all chicken meat sales in the city. From here on out.

Amy Albright 6 years, 3 months ago

Awful offal on the streets every day. Can the city please ban roadkill?

somedude20 6 years, 3 months ago

Cant she just get some of those good looking PETA girls to get naked and sit in the chicken crate. They could use some body paint and well places feathers.

"Do you smell burning feathers?" "Joe's older brother, Albert. He smelled burning feathers. He had a brain tumor."

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

Inside the cow!

Well, so far anyway. Maybe it's time for a 'Story of Cows' project.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

I've seen chickens being butchered, we did it out on the farm. And, someone in grade school was telling me that a relative of his thought that fried chicken brains were wonderful to have for breakfast. But it must have taken a whole lot of chickens to make a plateful of fried chicken brains. Look at how small their heads are! And why do people say "bird brain"? Chickens can't have much brains at all. And I know that because of what they do after you cut their heads off. They run all over the place without their head. Really, they do. That's why people say "running around like chickens with their heads cut off." They'd be running all over the place if they were butchered in town, across the street and everything. After you cut a chicken's head off, when it runs, it runs in a straight line until it runs into something, then it stands up and runs in another direction. Then finally, it will fall over and its legs will twitch for a while. But, they really don't run all that far, fifty feet maybe, and you can tell where they all ran to by following the trails of blood.

How's that for an art project?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

No, it wasn't a problem at all. We went around and picked them all up later. Plus, they gave the dog something to chase.

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