In her black and white pen and ink drawings, roles are reversed and there is a massive power shift. Animals are suddenly clubbing young children, experimenting on humans and hunting humans all in the name of ‘sport’. It is a powerful, profound and disturbing reversal. Subsequently we must consider our impact, treatment and thoughts on animals.
The uncomfortable visual impact leads to violent moral and ethical battles. In these battles Berlin based Barbara Daniels skilfully leads us to unsettling but perhaps telling truths about humanity.
How did a young Barbara Daniels get in to art and indeed could you have been something else?
I have been creating art for my entire life. I began drawing pictures as soon as I could hold a pencil, and I painted murals all over the walls of my bedroom where I grew up. Art is the only thing I have always known I wanted to do. I can’t imagine being anything other than an artist. Art is in my blood.
Family and art -elaborate.
I grew up with six brothers, so I was always in a male-dominated environment. While I was drawing pictures, my brothers were more interested in cars, soccer and video games. Sometimes they made fun of my drawings, and that made me feel ashamed of my art at times. I even burnt some of my pictures so they wouldn’t find them. When I decided to pursue art as a career path, my parents saw my passion and supported me every step of the way. They didn’t really believe there was much of a future for me as an artist, but they didn’t have any better ideas.
I think our modern society is more disconnected from nature than ever before.
Has art become a job?
I think any artist would tell you that it’s very difficult to make a living as an artist. Since I left college, I have had several jobs in restaurants, bars and I also did some catering. However, I have never stopped creating art. Now I am a full-time artist, and I’m thankful that my husband believes in my art and helps to support my dream.
Talk about how your struck upon the ideas your present in your work?
I was on holidays with my husband in Strasbourg, France in 2012. We were sitting in a cafe, and I was eating chicken wings. Suddenly, I just thought about what the scene would look like if the roles were reversed. I made a quick sketch on a napkin of a chicken eating human arms. That was the first role reversal idea I had.
What made that idea something you wanted to push in your art-what were you trying to achieve?
As I thought of the idea more, role reversal ideas began to grow. I began to think it could make a good series. I have always loved drawing animals anyway, and I like to create art that makes people think. In truth I wasn’t trying to achieve anything other than to create art. Many people assume that I’m trying to push some sort of political agenda with my art. This is not the case. It is just art. The viewer is free to interpret it any way they want to.
We know you try to make it clear that you are not an animal activist as such but discuss your opinions on mass production of food and animal treatment?
I do extensive research on the topics shown in my art, because I want to portray the reversed scenarios as accurately as possible. As a result of my research, I have learned a lot about factory farming, and it actually led to me becoming vegetarian a year ago. I feel in my heart that factory farming is wrong, and that’s why I decided not to contribute to the demand for it any more.
Dominions Of Man great series. The image of the seal getting ready to club the child is powerful. How have people reacted?
That is the most controversial drawing I have had so far. A lot of the comments on facebook were actually from people defending the sealing industry in Canada. They accused me of spreading hatred and propaganda, and some of them even claimed that seal clubbing doesn’t exist at all. There were also passionate comments from animal rights activists on the other side of the argument, too. That picture really struck a chord with a lot of people.
Do you think that we are disconnected to our impact on animals and the world-how do we re-connect?
I think our modern society is more disconnected from nature than ever before. I don’t know exactly how we can change this, but I hope that my art causes people to re-evaluate their own behaviour and understand its impact on the other creatures on this planet.
What other subjects will you be exploring in the series?
You will have to stay tuned to find out! All I can tell you is that there is a lot more to come. I still have a huge list of ideas for the series, and because each drawing takes about 3 weeks to complete, I will be doing this for a long time.