Here are five clips from the latest episode of my radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT, the weekly radio show hosted/produced by arts presenter Matt Micucci. The show revolves around art and culture, and where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed.
(To listen to/download the full radio show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)
Why is Franz Kafka so celebrated and what is the meaning of “Kafkaesque”?
How Diego Velázquez gifted the Infanta Margarita Teresa with immortality.
Who was Emmett Till?
A Joaquin Phoenix-narrated animal rights documentary sparked a hostage crisis crisis in Ukraine.
What did Pablo Picasso in Cannes after the Second World War?
Lots more where that came from! You can listen to the full epsiode of THE ART MOVEMENT (including the music) via the player below.
I think one of the most bizarre and somewhat dramatic pieces of news in the arts and culture sector from this past week came from Ukraine, where a man named Maksym Kryvosh armed with a rifle and grenades hijacked a bus and held up 13 hostages, demanding that the country officially endorse the 2005 documentary Earthlings, which happens to have been narrated by Joaquin Phoenix.
The film talks about humanity’s horrific abuse of animals but I can’t provide you with an actual critique for the film because I have never seen it. Of course, I have heard about the film before and have even heard people refer to it as the reason they have embraced animal rights issues and have even become vegetarians or vegans. So, I appreciate what it has done in terms of changing people’s mindset.
Now, both the director of the film and Joaquin Phoenix, who by the way has been an exceptional spokesperson for animal rights for several years, rightly promptly distanced themselves from this hijacking. Shaun Monson, who is the director of Earthlings, stated: “We do not cause terror to awaken people to terror.” And that’s a wonderful statement.
Of course, the problem is that Earthlings much like any other artwork opens itself up to inspiring acts of extremism and even terrorism. That’s kind of the curse of art as a whole. Now, I am an animal rights supporter, strict vegetarian and appalled by animal cruelty of any kind. But this was obviously an act of terror by a man who more than likely is dealing with serious mental illness.
None of the hostages were harmed and they were released after the president of Ukraine posted a short statement on his Facebook page recommending that everyone watch Earthlings. That’s all it took. The man was arrested and that was that.
But the news wasn’t so much about whether this guy Kryvosh had the best interests of animals at heart for doing what he did. This is actually a somewhat irrelevant part of the story because anybody could wake up tomorrow and do the exact same thing anywhere in the world for an entirely different reason.
What almost risks passing unnoticed about this entire event is one question: where did this man get a rifle and grenades?
Actually, it’s not such a difficult question to answer. In the early years of the prolonged separatist war in Eastern Ukraine, which began in 2014, all kinds of weapons were used by volunteers and paramilitaries fighting on the Ukrainian side. Since then, several of these weapons and explosives have been missing and together with Ukraine’s lax gun laws, these weapons have been used in crimes far from the front line, including domestic violence.
In fact, many reports state that Ukraine has a higher prevalence of guns in society than other European nations. The fact that this event is somehow linked to a Joaquin Phoenix movie gave it a wider exposure and should be a warning against extremism but also should cause much reflection in terms of thinking about gun laws everywhere.
Also, I know nobody needs me to say this but of course, this does the fight for animal rights no favors. Again, I am an animal rights activist but I struggle to be on the same side of some vegans because I am also against extremism. It actually does the exact opposite, it’s incredibly awkward for me as an animal rights activist, when things like these happen.
As it happens, I don’t even know whether this Kryvosh character was a vegan or not and again, it actually doesn’t really matter whether he was or not. He certainly did not identify himself as such and actually somewhat proudly declared himself a legal terrorist.
So, instead of paying attention to guys like these, let’s pay attention to what the Humane Society International does or what influencers like Chrissie Hynde or even Joaquin Phoenix say about this specific issue. This is obviously an important aspect of evolution, one that we’ll most likely not see in our lifetime, particularly in several parts of the world where animals are sacrificed in the name of tradition or in the name of religion.
Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about the arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted by globe-trotting art presenter Matt Micucci, featuring plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.
Listen to episode 19 via one of the players below.
In this episode:
Franz Kafka and the meaning of “Kafkaesque”
Diego Velázquez and the Infanta Margarita
Vocalese pioneer Annie Ross has died
Joaquin Phoenix animal rights documentary causes hostage crisis in Ukraine