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Woman banned from slaughtering chickens as part of art installation

Kansas artist Amber Hansen wanted to publicly slaughter the birds to demonstrate the process to meat eaters and challenge “the contemporary view of chickens as merely ‘livestock’”.

Amber Hansen works in her studio in Lawrence, Kansas
Amber Hansen works in her studio in Lawrence, Kansas
Image: AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Rich Sugg

OFFICIALS HAVE BANNED an artist from publicly slaughtering chickens in eastern Kansas, saying the proposed art installation would amount to animal cruelty.

Lawrence’s Assistant City Attorney Chad Sublet said Tuesday that artist Amber Hansen told him she “intends to abide by the city ordinance.” Violating the animal cruelty ordinance could lead to a fine of up to $1,000 (€743) and six months in jail. Even keeping the chickens on private land would require her to meet other city codes on animal care.

Sublet said Hansen is considering alternatives to draw attention to the process of slaughtering animals, including a public sculpture.

Through the project, called “The Story of Chickens: A Revolution,” Hansen originally planned to display coops of chickens at locations across Lawrence, where they would be cared for by volunteers. The birds would later be publicly slaughtered by a local farmer and served as a meal.

The contemporary view of chickens as merely ‘livestock’

“By building a relationship with the birds, the project will transform the contemporary view of chickens as merely ‘livestock’ to the beautiful and unique creatures they are, while promoting alternative and healthy processes of caring for them,” Hansen, an artist in residence at the University of Kansas, wrote on her project’s website.

She received funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts’ Rocket Grants program in collaboration with the Charlotte Street Foundation and the University of Kansas’ Spencer Museum of Art.

Hansen spoke to the Lawrence-Journal World but didn’t immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press left for her through a relative. She has said she grew up on a farm where some animals were raised for food. She said she began to feel disconnected from her food after she left and went to art school.

“It is an important process to witness and be mindful of”

“If people choose to eat meat, it is an important process to witness and be mindful of,” Hansen told the Lawrence newspaper. “It is a process that takes place on a mass scale every day, and we aren’t really allowed to see it.”

But several animal rights activists, including Lawrence’s Compassion for All Animals group and United Poultry Concerns, had expressed concerns, including that the public display would be stressful for the animals. Hansen acknowledged there had been concerns.

“The project will move forward to accommodate that discussion, but it will abide by the city’s codes,” she told the Lawrence newspaper.

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