An exhibition at the San Francisco Art Institute’s (SFAI) Walter And McBean Galleries has been suspended after the gallery received over 3000 emails from students, faculty, and community members in protest. Don’t Trust Me is French artist Adel Abdessemed’s first exhibition on the West Coast. The controversial work consists of several monitors, each showing looped footage of a tethered animal – a goat, an ox, a horse, a sheep, a pig, and a fawn – being hit on the head with sledge hammer. In addition to the contentious footage, the exhibition includes a large neon brain, a series of wall drawings, and a large video installation that features the artist hanging from a helicopter while trying to draw Gericault’s Raft Of The Medusa (1818).
The institute is having an open forum at 12PM Monday at their lecture hall where concerned individuals will be able to discuss the issues surrounding the work with Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs and former BAS interviewee Hou Hanru, Dean of Academic Affairs Okwui Enwezor, and institute professors and artists John Rapko and Tony Labat. If you happen to be in the area, please come.
Mining the media fallout:
The San Francisco FOX affiliate KTVU did a short segment on the exhibition, watch it here.
SFAI has a statement out on Tuesday.
San Rafael-based animal rights organization In Defense Of Animals has referred to the videos as animal snuff films, you can link to their interpretation of the exhibition, here.
San Francisco SPCA has released a statement condemning the exhibition, read that here.
You can find a stream of comments on the show at www.nonstarvingartists.com, and of course on the PETA website, here.
The San Francisco Examiner published an article about the exhibition, read that here.
- Controversial Exhibition Suspended In San Francisco - March 28, 2008
While animal suffering occurs in the real world (ref: sfai story) and is a valid and, indeed necessary, topic for discussion, I am offended that it would ever be promoted as art. To cause suffering for the sake of that ‘art’ delibertely (ref: artist starves animal to death) should be offensive to any civilized person and cannot be considered art by any sane person. This is called animal cruelty and abuse and the ‘artist’ should have been tied up and starved. Wonder what he would have thought of his ‘art’ at the end of the week?
Dr. Bridgit Gilmore