What if we reversed roles with animals to take their place? This is what the Irish artist Barbara Daniels offers us without comment in drawings as surprising as they are confusing. Through the series Dominion over Man, she invites us to rethink the place of human beings and animals in our society.
“Imagine a world in which the role of animals and humans would be reversed. What would it look like? What would be the feeling of being dominated by another species? My current artistic research aims to answer these questions and draw inspiration from real-world situations, “explains Irish artist Barbara Daniels on her website.
When animals take the place of humans
She depicts a society in which human populations are exploited by animals. Her works thus encourage the observer to question himself by adopting a new perspective, that of the oppressed. The questions that flow from it are numerous: why do industrialized human societies give so little importance to the suffering of animals? Why does the human regard all other species as inferior? Why do we accept to inflict pain to sensitive being?
Barbara Daniel draw in pencil and ink on watercolor paper. Discover some of her work in the video below.
The relationship of humans to animals: ethical and political issues
At the global level, it has been estimated by the FAO that 60 billion mammals and birds and 90 billion marine animals are slaughtered each year. Figures so large that they make it difficult to imagine the violence they contain. Indeed, most of the slaughtering is done according to industrial processes, that is to say at the chain, without any regard for the stress and the suffering endured by the animals. The only slogan of the “modern world” is that of profitability, so the search for efficiency throughout the industrial process in defiance of any form of benevolence.
In addition, the greed of humans for meat is not unrelated to the current ecological catastrophe. On the one hand, the livestock sector accounts for 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, fishing progressively empties the oceans of its fish. As a direct result, over the past 40 years, marine species populations have declined by 39%. Finally, these data do not reveal other types of violence, such as those against animals used in laboratories for example, or those caused by the widespread destruction of eco-systems by the human hand.
These figures remind us that the way we behave with animals is an ethical problem but also a highly political issue. Yet, the public debates on these issues are particularly heated, not only because they are huge economic issues, but also because the arguments of animal advocates are often rejected on the grounds that any change would go against culture, the state of nature or traditions. All the excuses look good. The works of Barbara Daniels is a pavement thrown into the pond of indifference to help us out of this binary world view.
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