Media Contact: Linda Brant
Artist Builds Monument for Farm Animals
Artist Linda Brant has installed a special monument dedicated to farm animals at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in New York. The project began in 2015 when Brant received the first of two creativity grants from the Culture & Animals Foundation. A formal unveiling of the monument at the nation’s oldest pet cemetery took place on May 18, 2019.
Dedicated to Animals We Do Not Mourn, the monument is a memorial, a public art piece, and a powerful historical statement. “I think many people are uncomfortable with the way farm animals are treated,” Brant asserts, “and this monument is both a memorial and a statement of the need for greater mindfulness in our care and treatment of these individuals.” “The monument is both interactive and generative,” states Brant. Visitors are encouraged to leave a small stone or crystal near the base of monument as a show of support for its message. The stones that are left by visitors will be used to create another monument for the unmourned.
The Monument To Animals We Do Not Mourn features a gently curving white granite tablet with a cast bronze cattle skull in the middle. A hand-faceted quartz crystal is carefully placed in the position of the skull’s third eye. “When cattle are slaughtered,” explains Brant, “they are shot between the eyes with a captive bolt stunner, leaving a characteristic hole in the skull. Ironically, the site of this injury corresponds with that of the metaphorical third eye.” The crystal functions as a symbol, transforming the place of pain into a call for compassion.
"The monument is designed to be visually simple yet challenging," states Brant. The permanence of the materials (granite, bronze and crystal) stands in contrast to a throw-away society and the commonly held view that the lives of certain types of animals are disposable. Beneath the skull, a hand carved crack runs down the middle of the monument denoting injury and echoing a similar crack in the cattle skull. A curving thread leads the viewer’s eye from the skull to the base of the monument where an etched needle and four carved stitches suggest the process of closing or mending the wound. According to Brant, the 'sewn' portion of the monument represents both the healing and the work that must be done to extend the range of human compassion to farmed animals. The monument stands 55 inches high, which is approximately the same height as a young steer at the time of slaughter.
The monument is already garnering attention from leaders in the field of Human Animal Studies. Anthropologist, author and professor Margo DeMello states that Brant’s project “has the potential to change the way people think of non-pet animals, opening their minds and possibly changing behavior in ways that truly benefit animals.” Sociologist Michał Piotr Pręgowski sees Brant’s installation as the next step in raising awareness about the inconsistencies of the human approach to other species. “Many members of contemporary societies become aware of the ethical weight of our human selectiveness: that we love some animals while remaining very unsympathetic to many others,” says Pręgowski. “Being aware of this selectiveness causes a dissonance and Brant’s timely monument strikes at the very core of it in the most appropriate place available.”
The monument is located in the center of the cemetery near the War Dog Memorial, which was installed in 1923. Established in 1896, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is known as The Peaceable Kingdom because all species are welcome there. It is the oldest known pet cemetery in the United States and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Process photos of the making of the monument can be found on Brant's project website, www.unmourned.net