Does Banksy’s ‘Siren of the Lambs’ Help Confront Animal Cruelty?

Banksy is at it again, except this time he’s bringing the issue of factory farming and animal cruelty to the streets with his latest installation ‘Siren of the Lambs’ that hit New York’s meatpacking district on October 11th and will continue to tour citywide for the following two weeks.

His newest and ongoing experiment, Better Out Than In, taking place in New York City, features a different art installation every day throughout the month of October. Each piece is accompanied by a toll free number that viewers can call to enhance their enjoyment of the exhibits. For those of us living outside of NYC, we can still listen in over at Banky’s official website.

When we listen to the audio we’re able to learn a little more about the context of the piece. We discover that Banksy spent time working in a butcher’s shop when he was a youth mincing beef, an experience that has obviously resonated with him in later life.

‘Siren of the Lambs’ is in essence a depressed and weathered green slaughterhouse delivery truck, labelled Farm Fresh Meats, crammed with 60 cuddly soft toys on the road to a swift death. The collection of stuffed animals are accompanied by a variety of screams and squeals playing in the background as they stick their heads and snouts through the slits in their mobile prison.

A video made of the installation shows pedestrians meeting the rolling truck with curiosity and in some cases fear; one baby was even reduced to tears by the cries of the seemingly friendly looking plush animals.

This isn’t the first time that Banksy has created art in relation to the treatment of animals. In 2008, he produced walking chicken nuggets, a pet store and charcoal grill in 2009, and a kid’s dolphin ride entangled in nets and oil in 2010.

This mobile piece is the latest in his line of animal related works, but what exactly is the artist hoping to achieve?

He has cleverly used the innocence of stuffed toys to bring to light the casual cruelty of the food industry. This juxtaposition of something so harmless combined with the haunting squeals and disheveled truck has certainly made people look twice, but has it made them think twice?

The funny thing is that these same slaughterhouse trucks pass people by everyday, crammed full of real, living, breathing, feeling animals, yet they go completely and utterly unnoticed. The animals that inhabit them have become as Liz Marshall so poetically puts it, “the ghosts in our machine,” and we barely even acknowledge their existence.

Banksy is asking us to address issues that we prefer to sweep under the carpet.

By changing the infamous Hollywood movie title ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ with the word ‘Siren’, Banksy gives us more food for thought. By definition the word siren is a signal or warning sound, so we can begin to understand that he is attempting to alert us to the plight of these animals who are clearly in trouble and in need of help…or is it in fact us that is in trouble?

Some may see the piece as mere entertainment and may not look much deeper behind the meaning of it all, but who knows how it will resonate with others? One thing for sure is that next time the viewer encounters a real slaughterhouse truck, chances are they will take note.

How does Banksy’s piece affect your feelings or awareness for factory farmed animals?

Photo Credit: Banksy

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161 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven4 months ago

thanks for the article.

Teresa W.
Teresa W.about a year ago

Hmmm... This is basically good, but some people may mock at it. If, for example, Greenpeace members dress up as polar bears, many people write comments like: 'Who sponsors such idiotic actions?'

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton2 years ago

I think this is genius. Let people see what happens when they are carted away for slaughter. CONSUMERS HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEE FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END!!

Virginia Abreu de Paula

Fantastic idea. Genius.

Deborah W.
Deborah W.2 years ago

The visual attempt is great. Ingestion of the horror behind the visual, however, takes a functioning brain that still has some depth and compassion for other than self ... a rare commodity indeed these days.

The pointed out facts speak for themselves ... the real thing passes folks daily, "casual cruelty" ... Awareness is needed but only Step One. Now that we know, what? We all own a part of this travesty, shame.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Abigail, for Sharing this!

Angela l.
angel l.2 years ago

It's great that Bansky brought action to the street - a picture saves a thousand words. People are too busy to think where their meat come from and don't get a chance to read or see how slaughterhouses operate, or how many would visit a farm how animals are cramped together...etc...Some avoid knowing the fact so they can stay on meat!!! If only people practice to be kind and compassionate, all beings can eliminate so much suffering.

alice rozgon
alice rozgon2 years ago

I think Banksy is doing good work. Of course you need a thinking brain to go a step further, but when not? It's always needed opened eyes and thinking brain to rethink somethink, to see the picture whole.

JO MUNZ
JO MUNZ2 years ago

I'm a vegetarian -- I won't and can't kill animals -- I do suggest therefore that they be spayed and neutered. For those of you who need or want to eat meat, choose "Certified Humane" -- "Humanely Raised and Handled" / also look up HFAC! In addition, I strongly urge all farmers who deal in killing animals for the sale of their meat to PLEASE also engage in a side business of planting and growing veggies, peanuts, herbs, spices, etc.