Performance Art and Animal Testing

In April 2012, Jacqueline Traides and Oliver Cronk performed a shocking piece in the window of Lush  Cosmetics’ on Regent Street in London. Parts of this piece can be seen in the video above, where Traides performs as a “test subject” who undergoes torturous procedures at the hands of a “lab technician” (Cronk). This piece was part of Lush’s Fighting Animal Testing campaign, and its shocking nature really seemed to convince people to sign the petition to end cosmetics testing on animals. It is not often that we see artists, especially performance artists, working directly with specific social justice campaigns. Because of this, it is very hard to miss the message of the piece.  While, like most performance art, the piece is nuanced, its hard to misunderstand the message when there are people standing with clipboards ready to have you sign their petition. In some ways this seems to make the piece more effective in accomplishing its purpose, but it also seems to somewhat diminish the aesthetic effect of the piece. Perhaps Traides, Cronk, and the Lush campaign are paving the way for a more precise connection between social justice and art, one that is obvious and straightforward, but what will that mean for the aesthetic value of the art that is created?

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