The Telegraph has reported that two German artists Iman Rezai and Rouven Materneare in hot water over their controversial “art piece” where they ask internet voters to decide whether they behead a sheep with a guillotine.
Calling it an “experiment” the artists say their work “represents the current state of democracy” and a “reflection on our society”. As of Tuesday morning 295,160 people had voted, with the majority, 176,319, wanting the sheep to live.
The polling deadline is mid May and animal rights groups are ready to step in to save the sheep and prosecute the duo under animal cruelty laws. However many see it as a ruse to gain publicity, Bernd Hoffman from PETA states,
I can’t imagine that the animal will actually be killed. Artists often try to shock with such provocative actions. Sometimes they use the internet to have life-and-death polls.
This controversy follows in the footsteps of past artworks involving cruety to animals such as the 2003 work by Chilean-born Danish artist Marco Evaristti. Evaristti placed goldfish in ten plugged in blenders in a gallery giving vistors the option to turn them on. Speaking to the BBC artist Evaristti said,
It was a protest against what is going on in the world, against this cynicism, this brutality that impregnates the world in which we live.
One visitor actually liquified a goldfish and while Peter Meyer, director of the Trapholt Art Museum in Kolding was fined, the courts later ruled that it was not in fact animal cruelty as the goldfish were executed instantly.
In 2007 Nicaraguan artist Guillermo Vargas Jiménez placed an emaciated street dog on a short lease in a gallery with the words Eres Lo Que Lees” (“You Are What You Read”) written on the wall in dog food. This work drew the ire of millions of animal lovers all over the internet.