Street artist Dan Witz is collaborating with PETA on a new project which seeks to bring the billions of animals who are killed each year for food out from the shadows and into the public eye. Titled “Empty the Cages”, the project consists of dozens of pieces of art featuring Witz’s signature trompe l’oeil style placed throughout London. Each piece is being fitted with a QR code which automatically directs mobile phone users to a new PETA website where they can learn more about the meat industry and order a free copy of PETA’s vegetarian starter kit.
It’s PETA’s aim to change the way society treats animals – to encourage people to see them as the living, feeling individuals that they are, rather than as food or fabric. Art is a powerful medium to convey that message. We saw the impact Dan’s “Prisoner” series had and the attention it brought to people who have been wrongfully imprisoned and so we contacted him about collaborating on a project that would also take a stand against injustice – this time for the billions of animals who are confined for the duration of their miserable lives to in filthy cages; all for a fleeting moment of taste.
Dan Witz says
Like most artists, I’m interested in exploring what society hides from itself. As a human, I’m concerned with injustice. But, like most people, I feel powerless to do anything about the downward spiral our planet seems to be taking. But, as someone who operates in the public commons, with my street interventions, sometimes I get the opportunity to directly address this frustration, to provoke a dialogue about issues that matter to me.
It wasn’t until the anti-whistleblower gagging laws began passing in the United States that my attention was drawn to America’s animal agriculture industry. Further exploration revealed unbelievable depths of abuse — perpetrated against not only farm animals, but also the environment. Climate change, deforestation, wildlife extinction, water waste, air pollution and ocean dead zones (among other things) are all directly attributable to meat, dairy and egg production. And then there’s the merciless ways in which these deep-pocketed and powerful entities treat their employees, not to mention the local irreversible environmental damage.”
It’s truly unconscionable what these corporations get away with, day in and day out with seeming impunity. This is why when PETA UK invited me to partner with them on the Empty the Cages project, to raise awareness surrounding animals raised for food and their dire plight, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. If encountering my pieces brings this topic to anyone’s attention, then art matters, because life matters, and I’m satisfied.
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