Look Closer is a photo series by OZY that encourages readers to see beyond a seemingly normal photo. Hover over the circles to explore the photo more deeply.
A naked activist holds a sign reading “How Many Deaths for a Coat?” while chanting “Suffering is not elegant.”
The 70 protesters, organized by animal rights group AnimaNaturalist, were covered in fake blood and cut marks to depict the skinning animals undergo before being used for fur clothing.
Their presence was no accident: Spain, unlike other European Union countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany, has not outlawed fur farming despite calls to do so.
The demonstration took place in Barcelona’s Catalunya Square on Dec. 1, the day before the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which drew thousands of participants and journalists.
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It’s a hard image to look at for long. Naked bodies, bloodied, strewn across concrete, marked by horrific cuts and closed eyes. And then a woman, looking up, with a poster that begins: “How many deaths …” Of course, read the rest of the message and the larger picture starts to come into focus. This is not a bloody massacre of human life, but rather a demonstration highlighting the animal lives taken to procure fur and leather.
About 70 animal rights activists, organized by the international group AnimaNaturalist, performed at Barcelona’s Catalunya Square on Dec. 1, the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The two-week event — which was moved to Spain after planned host country Chile withdrew amid riots over economic inequality — was expected to draw some 25,000 participants and 1,500 journalists, making it a high-profile place to deliver such a striking message.
“Suffering is not elegant,” a sign-holding woman reportedly chanted, as photographers and journalists shot photos of the display. The activists, doused in fake blood, were displayed in a way to mimic the appearance of the animals most affected by the fur trade, including minks, ferrets, foxes, seals and otters. And the location had special significance too: While some European nations, including the United Kingdom and Germany, have banned fur farming, it remains legal in Spain.
The demonstration is being followed by other protests against the fur trade, most notably an investigation by PETA that showed live rabbits being beheaded and chinchillas being electrocuted at Russian fur farms. The advocacy group called for Nordstrom to stop selling fur clothing. And there may be momentum going forward — retailers Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, plus designers Versace and Gucci, have already banned fur.
Photographs by Albert Gea/Reuters
Look Closer: A Gruesome Massacre ... But Not The Kind You Think
Look Closer is a new photo series by OZY that encourages readers to see beyond a seemingly normal photo. Hover over the circles to explore the photo more deeply.
The idea for the quilt was hatched by activist Cleve Jones during the candlelight march in remembrance of the 1978 assassinations of San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.
There were more than 44,000 individual panels in the quilt, weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
The first display of the quilt was in 1987, in Washington, D.C., and it was displayed again in 1996 to be visited by President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was shown again at the time of the XIX International AIDS Conference in 2012.
The quilt was often the only opportunity survivors had to remember and honor the lives of their loved ones. Many who died of AIDS-related illnesses didn’t have funerals because of the social stigma early on. In fact, some funeral homes and cemeteries even refused to accept the bodies of the deceased.
This could be Washingtonians standing beside a giant board game on the National Mall. But look beyond a glance and you’ll see that the spectators are gathered around the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt on a crisp October day in 1996. The expansive, colorful AIDS Memorial Quilt — with more than 44,000 panels weighing over 10,000 pounds — was designed to be an eye-catching tool for a national prevention campaign that portrayed the humanity behind the statistics. The idea for the project was hatched in 1985 by activist Cleve Jones and other volunteers during a candlelight march in remembrance of the 1978 assassinations of San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.
In more ways than one, 1996 was an inflection point. It was the first year since the epidemic started that saw the AIDS incidence rate and deaths decline. In the same year, Time magazine Man of the Year was granted to AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho. The doctor was a pioneer in the use of drug “cocktails,” or combinations, to fight the virus. At the time, 23 million people worldwide were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS, and more than 6 million people had already died.
“When the history of this era is written, it is likely that the men and women who turned the tide on AIDS will be seen as true heroes of the age,” Time wrote about Dr. Ho. By 2017, more than two decades later, nearly 37 million people had HIV/AIDS worldwide, according to UNAIDS.
Today, remembrance and commitment to LGBTQ rights are no less pressing. Pride Month, which commemorates the Stonewall riots of 1969 in Manhattan, is simultaneously a time for resistance and celebration. Among those both within and outside the LGBTQ community, this month evokes an intentional remembrance of decades of hard-fought progress that LGBTQ activists have made in demanding equal rights in American society. At the same time, it’s a reminder that democracy requires the active participation of all — and that the battle for equality is neither over nor won.
Photograph by Shayna Brennan/AP
Look Closer: Rugs, Giant Board Game, or Something Far More Poignant?
By Nick Fouriezos