The streets of New York City can offer up some strange things on a daily basis, blurring the lines between what is real and what is a facade. In New York, a strange occurrence can easily be a piece of art meant to entertain, inspire, or bring awareness. This was the case on Oct. 10, 2013, when a unique and strange truck was seen in Brooklyn before ending up at the Meatpacking District. The Gothamist was one of the first to report the bizarre weathered green slaughterhouse delivery truck, labeled Farm Fresh Meat, filled with squeaky stuffed animals locked up in the back, heads peering out through slits in their mobile prison. It wasn’t till the next day that credit for the moving art installation was officially attributed to the famous street artist Banksy. See video of the truck here!
Banksy is an artist visiting from the United Kingdom. Everyday in the month of October, he plans on producing an art installation in New York City. So far, Banksy’s website has taken credit for projects that range from more tradition graffiti to a mobile truck garden oasis. Now he has taken credit for what he calls ‘Sirens of the Lambs.’ An obvious statement against factory farming and animal cruelty, this installation has received a lot attention in the past few days. Treehugger reports that this is not Banksy’s first art installation in relation to treatment of animals, having produced robotic, walking chicken nuggets in 2008, and a dolphin kiddie ride entangled in nets while jumping an oil barrel in 2010 in response to the BP oil spill.
Every aspect of Banksy’s ‘Sirens of the Lambs’ mobile art installation has meaning. From the context of the title to where the truck was located and of course the aesthetics of the installation itself. The title references Greek mythology as well as American pop culture. According to Greek mythology, Sirens were creatures that lured sailors to their death using their beauty. Similarly, these cute stuff animals draw our attention to the death of real animals in factory farms for our meat consumption.
The title of this project also references the Hollywood movie ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ where an FBI agent has to learn from a captive cannibalistic serial killer in order to catch another killer. Is Banksy implying we need to face our carnivorous culture to find answers to the atrocities of factory farming? The location of the truck’s first stop is very symbolic in that it brings meaning to the whole project, aligning it with the meatpacking district and our meat consumption that has resulted in factory farming. The use of stuffed animals not only supports the ‘no animals were harmed in the making of this project’ angle but also brings empathy to the issues of animal rights and factory farming. Banksy’s use of these cute stuffed animals reminds us of the duality in which we view these animals as pets but also food, however never as living creatures with rights. Ultimately the true meaning of any art depends on what the audience perceives. Will Banksy’s activist art impact your feelings or awareness of factory farming? Or do you see this exhibit as just entertainment?
Watch the video below and decide for yourself!