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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Liquidising goldfish 'not a crime'
Goldfish
Expert witnesses told the trial the fish died instantly
An art display which invited the public to put live goldfish through a food blender did not constitute cruelty to animals, a Danish court has ruled.

The goldfish were placed on display swimming in the blenders, and visitors were told they could press the "on" button if they wanted.

At least one visitor did, killing two goldfish.

Peter Meyer, director of the Trapholt Art Museum in Kolding, 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Copenhagen, was fined for cruelty to animals after complaints from campaign group Friends of Animals.

It's a question of principle. An artist has the right to create works which defy our concept of what is right and what is wrong
Peter Meyer
Trapholt Art Museum
But a court in Denmark has now ruled that the fish were not treated cruelly, as they had not faced prolonged suffering.

The fish were killed "instantly" and "humanely", said Judge Preben Bagger.

The court had earlier heard an expert witness from the blenders' maker, Moulinex, that the fish had probably died within one second of the blender being switched on.

A vet also told the court that the fish would have died painlessly.

Mr Meyer will not now have to pay the fine of 2,000 kroner (269 euros) originally imposed by Danish police.

The case only went to court because he refused to pay the police fine. He told the court that artistic freedom was at stake.

"It's a question of principle. An artist has the right to create works which defy our concept of what is right and what is wrong," he told the court in Kolding.

The display featured a total of 10 blenders containing goldfish.

After the complaints, the blenders were unplugged and the exhibit continued without the possibility of killing the fish.

It was a protest against what is going on in the world, against this cynicism, this brutality that impregnates the world in which we live
Marco Evaristti
Artist
The exhibit was created by Chilean-born Danish artist Marco Evaristti, who was apparently trying to test visitors' sense of right and wrong.

Mr Evaristti said at the time he wanted to force people to "do battle with their conscience".

The idea, he said, was to "place people before a dilemma: to choose between life and death."

"It was a protest against what is going on in the world, against this cynicism, this brutality that impregnates the world in which we live," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Danish museum incurs fishy fine
24 Nov 00  |  Europe
Paris 'parrot art' creates flap
20 Nov 02  |  Europe


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