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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 17:49 GMT
Row over use of fish in artwork
Jannis Kounellis' Fishbowl
Jannis Kounellis' Fishbowl has been criticised for the use of live fish
An art exhibition which shows goldfish swimming around a six-inch knife which is stuck into their bowl is "sick and pathetic", says an animal rights group.

The piece, by Greek artist Jannis Kounellis, is on show at Modern Art Oxford and has attracted criticism for the use of animals in art.

"If that was a puppy or kittens in a cage with a giant knife, people would be very upset," said Animal Aid.

But the gallery director says the blunt knife poses no danger to the fish.

Fish don't tend to cut themselves on coral or broken bottles so it looks more of a threat than it is
Andrew Nairne, gallery director

Claudia Tarry, of Animal Aid, said: "It's sick, it's pathetic and it shows a complete poverty of imagination and a vast amount of callousness. It's not art."

Andrew Nairne, gallery director, said he had taken legal advice and that the knife display was conforming with legal requirements on animal welfare.

"If you run your thumb along it, you're not going to cut yourself," he said.

"Fish don't tend to cut themselves on coral or broken bottles so it looks more of a threat than it is."

He called the exhibit, created by Kounellis especially for the show, "creative and intelligent" and said the artist shared some of the ideas of Brit Art.

Kounellis began to use animals in his work in the late 1960s and one of his best known pieces featured 11 horses on show in a gallery.

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12 May 04 |  Oxfordshire

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