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date: 23 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Contemporary art has entered a stage where the animal has been degraded to the status of mere artistic material. Dehumanization, sensationalism, and the provision of moral cover by powerful art institutions are the three components of the culture of contemporary art ensuring that the moral considerability of the animal merits little serious discussion. The views of those concerned with animal welfare are pitted against those who see freedom of artistic expression as untouchable. The result is a sterile debate between polarized and irreconcilable positions. Cultural norms are changing and will likely result in changes in the culture of contemporary art. While formal censorship approaches are unlikely to be either acceptable or effective, there are opportunities for institutional changes that give the ethics of artists’ use and misuse of animals a seat at the table in the mainstream art world.

Keywords: animal studies, animals, contemporary art, ethics, moral considerability, censorship, freedom of artistic expression, dehumanization, sensationalism

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