Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Conversation between Barbara Daniels and Olivia Ramos.
RAMOS: Hi Barbara, thank you for joining me.
DANIELS: Thank you for inviting me!
your work was brought to my attention by a dear friend
days before we had been fantasizing about exactly that, factories in which humans were being exploited
I am a fan of the subject
How interesting! I remember you first contacted me when my painting Happy Farms was getting a lot of attention on facebook
I guess that is how she ran into it
So tell me, where does this come from?
Well, I first had the idea to flip the roles of humans and animals in my art back in 2012
I was actually eating chicken, and I thought to myself "What would this look like if the roles were reversed?"
Even back then I had so many different ideas, one of which was chicken food processing
I researched the idea for months, watching hundreds of terrible videos on Youtube of slaughterhouses and factory farms
My idea was to make a painting that displayed an accurate representation of the complete process of meat production from beginning to end, but of course with the twist being that the roles are reversed
Just the planning of the painting took 6 months, and then the execution took a year
Yes it is brutal to the animal, the way we produce food, as if they had no value other than our consumption.
Yes, I learned a lot of the terrible truths while doing my research
Do you think, as a whole, society does not really value life in general, other than on an individual basis? or is it specific to animals.
That is a very hard question to answer.
yes it is
I don't know if it is specific to animals, but there is certainly a feeling that animal life is valued less, that animals are only put here for the convenience of humans
there is so much history of humans treating other humans just the same - genocides, concentration camps, slavery...
Yes, I have thought about these things a lot as well, but my artwork really just focuses on the relationship between humans and animals
Understood. For me, it says a lot about humans in general. Which is why I was wondering if it was possible that this crime wasn't personal against animals. Simply the way humans are towards everything, nature, animals, and even themselves.
But focusing on the relationship between humans and animals, why do you think this has happened. Where does it come from?
That is an interesting thought. I guess maybe it's just in our nature to destroy ourselves and everything around us
is it from a place of humans thinking they are higher beings?
Yes, I think so
For example, there is a lot of critical commentary from religious people about my art work. They often recite lines from the bible and talk about how man has "dominion over animals", whatever that means
Does the Bible say that?
I'm not sure, but a lot of people use that line, so I think some translation of the bible must have it
on the other hand we have places like the Karni Matta temple in which rats are considered higher than humans
Wow, that is fascinating! Thank you for sending me that link!
perhaps this superiority idea is not in all religions, perhaps those traced back to Hellenistic or Greek mythology
they seemed to have had a great deal of narrative on the human-centric theory
this includes all religion that follow the Bible
Yes, it is very convenient for us to put ourselves in the center of the universe
But I think you are right that not all religions do it
which raises the question - is it a human characteristic or is it something else
not sure if we are born feeling better or even different than our fellow animals
in fact, there are stories of children raised by wolves and they don't know the difference
there must be a social mechanism at play
Yes, I think maybe it is something that we are taught in our modern society
I'm not sure how we became this way, but there is certainly a disconnect between what people imagine and what is really happening when it comes to the treatment of animals
and with you work, what would be the ultimate consequence?
What do you mean?
the intention behind your work, the desired effect, what would that be?
I want people to see and acknowledge the truth about the treatment of animals in our society, but I try to do it from a new and different perspective
In my art I try to show people what it would be like to be a broiler chicken, or a fish in fish bowl, etc.
to what end? what would be your desired outcome?
When people see my art, I think they automatically put themselves into the roles of the humans in the pictures. I see the ideas click in people's heads for the first time very often at the art market
I never thought about a desired outcome, it's ultimately just art, just ideas, but in this case based on facts
I guess I just want to present the inconvenient truths about our world to people in a way that really makes it click for them
I don't attempt to say what is right or wrong in my art, but I think in many cases the truth speaks for itself
I don't know where it's all going, I just take it one picture at a time!
understood - I guess with you ability to visualize a different kind of world, I wonder what it would look like if you painted your ideal world
or at least, for the sake of this conversation, articulate it... I'm just curious
you currently paint a world that is torturous to humans, which is super interesting and thought provoking
what would your idea world look like?
My ideal world, hmmm, let me think about that
take your time
In my ideal world, there would be peace among humans, and we would live in harmony with animals, because I love animals!
But I don't know it this is really possible. I acknowledge that I am part of the problem. When I began this series of art work, I was still eating meat
and now you don't eat meat?
But as a result of my research for my art work, I am making changes in my lifestyle and recently became vegetarian
wow that is a pretty amazing outcome
imagine scaling that outcome across the world
if there is no demand for meat then there is no reason to supply it
Having grown up in rural Ireland, I never thought I would become a vegetarian. But it happened, I don't eat meat any more!
Yes, exactly. I have become vegetarian primarily for moral reasons. I don't want to contribute to the demand for meat.