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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vegan information overload

You have probably know this for long. We reached this stage only now, after countless hours of browsing the net for vegan information.
We discovered that there is too much to talk about: too much to choose from!
We have run into stories of vegan vixens and vegan cartoonists, vegan country premiers and vegan company presidents, vegan weddings and vegan pastry shops. There is too much to talk about: vegan mints, vegan tanning lotions, vegan clothing lines, vegan conferences, vegan anything... all done by dedicated vegan people, like yourself. This is just too much to talk about!

So where to start? Maybe with one of the most bizarre news on the vegan planet.

The title of the article was definitely NOT promising: Vegetarian Artist to Eat a Whole Cow for Charity(here). It reminded me of a really nightmarous story many Canadians and Torontonians will remember (I am referring to the brutal cat skinning and beheading by the hands of the former vegetarian, self declared "artist" Matthew Kaczorowski) and I just was not impressed. but reading futher the story became a lot more interesting and filled with positive connotations:

(as appearing on PRWeb)
British artist Damian Hurst famously pickled whole animals. Now, a Portuguese vegan artist from Glasgow School of Fine Art has arranged an installation that will encourage members of the public to eat a whole cow. But is it art?

Glasgow, UK (PRWEB) June 18, 2006 -- 25 year old artist Zoe Birrell’s work is featured as part of Glasgow School of Arts’ Degree Show -- An annual exhibition of final year work from Fine Art, Architecture and Design.

The Times Newspaper and the Independent Newspaper have both chosen Glasgow School of Arts’ Degree show as the best Art show to visit in Scotland.

The Times said: "This is the best opportunity to discover artists before their reputations and prices soar; the Independent described the event as ‘one of the 'best degree shows' outside of London."

Vegetarian since the age of 14 and a Vegan for the last 5 years Zoe decided to explore the issues of intensively farmed animals related to her own femininity. The life of the modern dairy cow, kept perpetually pregnant and thus full of hormones whilst suffering the emotional stress of loss of her baby calf inspired Zoe to focus on these psychological and physiological issues and the ethical alternatives.

Zoe has cast her own body weight of delicious dairy free vegan chocolate,
donated by Plamil Foods, into a herd of 420 chocolate cows, 300 of which the public will be invited to purchase and eat.

It’s hoped the money raised will go to a animal sanctuary such as Hillside where they can save the life of a dairy cow (who typically have a working life of only 2-5 years) or a male calf destined for the veal crates of Europe or catfood.

There will be a small booklet that accompanies the exhibition and discusses some of the wider issues relating to human health and nutrition and environmental concerns raised by treating animals the way we do.

The Exhibition at The Mackintosh building in Renfrew street is open to the public every day from 10 am to 9 pm until June 25th.

Glasgow School Of Art, Mackintosh Gallery, 167 Renfrew Street
Glasgow Lanarkshire G3 6RQ –
0141 353 4500 -
From Jun 17, Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-2pm, ends Jun 24 2006 Entrance - Free

Artist's Statement
A model of a dairy herd made from organic vegan chocolate composes the main body of this work. Each cow is a solid cast made out of 87% cocoa chocolate produced by a vegan company (in which no animal ingredients are ever used). The cocoa's from a fairtrade scheme in the Dominican Republic that pays particular attention to women's rights. The number of cows in this herd is defined by my own body weight (53kg) as this is the amount of chocolate being used for the casts. This makes a total of roughly 480 cows. Some of these will be used in an installation but the majority of them have been packaged as consumer goods and will be sold individually. All these cows have been made in a food safe environment and are intended for consumption. The funds raised from selling these model cows will be divided into two part: the first will be used to rescue and re-home a calve (who would be considered surplus and put down) from the dairy industry and find it a suitable and safe home to live in, the second half will be used to fund similar projects in the future. All the packaging used is, as far as possible, eco friendly. The installation space used a series of alternative ways of refrigeration in order to create an adequate storage environment for the chocolate.

At the core of this project there is a desire to look at the way we perceive and engage with ourselves, and other around us in the society we live in, be these human or non-human animals. I am also looking at how this affects the environment we live in. My role and place as an individual in this equation is manifest by my body weight defining the size of the herd. The fact that I am a woman and I am creating an entirely female herd is not a coincidence as this herd is the result of the exploitation of another animals’ sexuality. The use of fairtrade organic vegan chocolate is specific in that it highlights how our consumer habits affect the rest of the world. The use of ecological and sustainable alternative refrigeration systems is a reflection of the effects of cattle farming on the release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. This work came about as a culmination of the collision of my love for other animals and art. It is the fruit of research, practice and education in both these fields.

Artist who interest me and have in some way influenced this work are people like Sue Coe, Janine Antoni, and Jethro Brice. Sue Coe’s prints intrigue me in that she is one of the few artists who used nonhuman animals in her work in a direct reference to themselves and welfare concerns surrounding them. In all my studies I have found that there are a lot of nonhuman animals in art but a very limited amount of art about nonhumans. Janine Antoni interests me in her use of consumables such as chocolate and lard to relate to herself. Jethro Brice’s work interests me in his engagement in the environment that surrounds us and almost his obsessive concern in making work from sustainable materials that have been recycled from the world around him.

Wow, I am glad and impressed! As bizarre this may sound (some website reporting the news thought it was pretty funny), the initiative seems sound to me: I have visited GSA (Glasgow School of Arts) a few years back and it is definitely on of the top 3 art schools in the UK if not the entire Europe. It is great to see such an awareness campaign to start from there! Go Zoe!

Plus, I confess I would gladly buy one of those small cows, even if slightly pricey for my pockets (5 pounds each for about 100 grams of chocolate)... and I would definitely be unable to hold myself from eating it!


Blogger KleoPatra said...

Go Zoe indeed!

6:01 am  
Blogger Virginie said...

A good project Zoe ! Continue. Contemporary Art needs some real political and ethical concerns, translated in an appropriate aesthetic language.

2:49 pm  
Blogger Melody said...

That's really neat.. I'm glad the headline was now accurate... just there for shock value.

4:57 pm  
Blogger jenny said...

That's such a clever idea!

6:34 pm  
Blogger pinknest said...

give me those chocolate cows!!!

ps you're so lucky getting to live in paris. *sigh*

8:49 pm  
Blogger Melody said...

T, when you have made burgers at home, how do they turn out? I haven't made a burger like a commercial veggie burger (but I don't like those, well, actually I have, but it wasn't vegan.. I made it for my husband and kids).. if you want, I will write down what I do the next time and email it to you.. It's kind of hard because it's a texture thing.. and moisture thing.. it's easier to feel or see it. When I teach my cooking classes pepole are surprised when the burgers turn out.. I guess I could take pics. (the mixture before chilling is much different from the mixture right before cooking the burger)

9:32 pm  
Blogger jenjen said...

oh my chocolate cows, how cute can that be, i don't know if I could eat them!

12:41 am  
Blogger t. said...

Melody- my veggie burgers were veggie nigthmares! I will surely get in touch to get a proper recipe since mine just fall apart on the pan. No actually they crumbled like each little piece hated each neighbouring piece. Or like there were magnetic forces to push them apart.
a true disaster! Any help is welcomed and highly needed!

3:12 am  

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Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened. Anatole France