BEIJING, Sept. 21 – A student anti-fur art exhibition that aims to educate young people in China, one of the world’s biggest fur exporters, that the wearing of fur is cruel and unnecessary opened Friday at the Renmin University of China.
The exhibition of works from the Design Against Fur (DAF) competition, co-organized by Swiss Animal Protection, the Fur Free Alliance and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, attracted 12,352 entries from university students all over the country.
“What impressed me most was that students came up with more striking ideas this year,” said Zhang Yang, DAF’S Chinese regional director.
“We cannot stop rich people from buying fur, but I hope we can at least change the minds of university students, who are potential buyers, from doing this in the future,” said Zhang.
Animals killed for fashion include rabbits, foxes, cats and dogs. Thousands of animals are killed for their fur in China each year, as there are no animal welfare laws.
The rabbit is the theme for the competition this year.
“To make one fur coat, people have to kill 30-40 rabbits,” Zhang said. “But many people are not aware of the fact that the rabbit is also a victim of fashion.”
He said the way rabbits are skinned to retrieve a prefect cut is bloody and inhuman, and he suggests using artificial fur to spare animals from cruelty.
Five students won prizes in four different categories including posters, T-shirts, fine art and multi-media items.
Zhang Qian, 20, a student with the Shanghai Film Art Academy, won the Most Popular award for her work titled “Please, don’t take off my clothes,” which depicts a bunny begging not to be skinned. She also won a ticket to Switzerland for a cultural exchange trip next month.
Zhang said she was stunned when they told her the good news.
“My work is not as eye-catching as the others,” she said. “Mine is simple and straightforward and sends out a message from a poor bunny.”
Zhang admitted that she once bought a fur coat because it was warm.
“But now if I spot someone wearing a fur coat or shawl, I will tell them ‘Hey, this is not cool. You are killing animals.'”
She confesses that she once accidentally killed her pet bunny. “I had one a few years ago. It was so stinky that I gave it a shower,” she said. “After drying its fur with a hair dryer, it looked better, and I took it to bed with me that night.” But it later got sick and died.
Liu Lei, 23, who just graduated from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, won first place for his multi-media work titled “If you ever had a rabbit,” which tells the story of a bunny being caught, stripped down, then turned into a shawl.
“I never thought wearing fur was fashion,” he told the Global Times. “Quite the opposite, I think it is tasteless.”
When asked how to capture the attention of fashion fans with the message that wearing fur is cruel and unnecessary, his answer is “to do it in a general way.”
“It is not necessary to show people how bloody and violent the behavior is,” he said. “It is not creative, it is stereotyped.”
Blood and violence are in many works. One titled “Know what you’re paying for,” depicts a knife-like credit card cutting a rabbit’s head apart.
Mark Rissi, a Swiss movie director and writer who attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition, said he was impressed by the creativity and enthusiasm of the participants.
“For two years in a row the international prize has been awarded to Chinese students,” he said. “That is quite a success story!”
“Animals have a right to be treated respectfully,” he added. “We are looking forward to the passing of the animal welfare law that has been drafted (in China).”
The fur industry is blamed for the death of millions of animals every year. It is estimated that one animal is killed for fur each second worldwide.
(Source: Global Times, Editor: Zhang Xiang)