Lately, because of recent developments via the Guggenheim, there is much talk in the art world and beyond about the ethics of using living things in an artwork.
As someone who does often photograph living animals for my work, this is something that is always on my mind, and more so in the last couple days. I photograph these creatures because I am interested in them, find them beautiful and ultimately value their presence on this incredible space rock we live on -- as such, I certainly do not want to contribute to any suffering.
Previously, I had a roughly formed informal code of ethics of how to manage the use of these animals, however, due to the recent conversations, I spent yesterday going through my process and looking for any opportunities to do better.
I decided that the best way forward was to compare how I was typically working with these creatures against the guidelines of the Animal Welfare Act, and make any changes immediately if need be.
For my purposes, I did not exclude any animal, in any particular way, as the AWA does, in fact, exclude certain animals from its protection. I also decided to include the exclusions, that are not federally mandated but would be required to receive federal funding.
I am happy to report that my previous practice was well within the guidelines of Animal Welfare Act.
The only point that I can, and should, do better is being more transparent about my policies so that I can be held accountable.
As far as I can tell, I don't qualify for any licensing or mandated regulations, but as of today, I do have a dedicated page on my website sharing my policy and code of ethics for review.
While I am proud that my previous practice is indeed humane, I do want to finish this post up by acknowledging that my approach is a work in progress, and I intend to continue to do more research and make improvements as I learn.
Phew, that was a doozy. Thank you for sticking with me with such a heavy topic. I'm one of the lucky humans who wakes up every day to make art, and I'm thankful that so many of you appreciate what I do.
I invite you to check out my Code of Ethics and share your thoughts below. (I know I won't make everyone happy, and that's ok, I want to hear from you either way.)