Immediately drawn to Yishu's article "The Spectre of Being Human" regarding the use of human bodies and animals in Chinese contemporary art, I began to question my own work. Due to my recent fascination with China's relation to meat (basically the sheer abundance one encounters on a daily basis as well as the "exotic" nature of the meat itself when compared to cuts one finds in the West), I found the article very relevant as it discussed issues of morality pertaining to the inclusion of living creatures within one's work. Although I have never used live animals in my art, this week I bought chicken feet, chicken hearts, fish, and an eel in hopes of creating molds from the bodies and organs. Obviously less provocative than works of Peng Yu and Sun Yuan, however, I feel that my piece must still face questions of moral responsibility. Is such handling of animals acceptable due to their status as food items? Should we only frown upon the use of live animals? As we empathize with people who lose their lives, why is it so easy to view animals as lesser beings? While human beings are able to sign away their bodies post death, an animal cannot do so.
"Similarly, Peng Yu views her work as being more challenging that that of Hirst because it uses live animals."
---Really??? Many pieces I've seen use human cadavers which are no different from animals submerged in formaldehyde.
"Modern life lets us accept that we are living, but we refuse to accept that we are dying," and "Yes, I'm disturbed in creating my work. But I have a responsibility. I'm like a surgeon. If I give in to a feeling of disgust, how can I cure the patient? I must be rational to help my audience confront mortality. For the artist it was not an exploitation of the dead but rather a responsibility and refusal to be constrained by 'simplistic mortality'." -Sun Yuan
---Although important to the concept of many artists' works, one cannot deny the hype that live animals and cadavers create and the exploitation that takes place through their usage.
sun yuan & peng yu:
2006 (home page)