Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > Finland
ARAs in Finland Use Library Exhibits to Educate Public
By Beryl Furman
I live in Kauniainen, Finland, a city close to the Capital, Helsinki, but what I have done can be done in any library in the world.
I got the idea when Animalia (www.animalia.org) offered some fine photos for an exhibit. I got interested right away. It was only a beginning, because then I had the idea of reserving a time for the coming spring in order to arrange a bigger exhibition in our City Hall. Finally I had a chance to speak out loudly about the horrors and brutality, which lay behind the daily life of our societies. I started to collect material that consists of:
12 photos of Animalia. In the middle I put a note: WHAT WAS WHO?
important articles that I have collected from different newspapers and magazines, and some of my own.
text written by famous people dating from the ancient times (for example, Phytagoras) until today, and my own texts.
photos of famous artists' animal art
my own art works
I made large scale colour copies of both the texts and from the pictures, so that they were effective. I framed them with very bright fluorescent coloured paper, so they would both bring attention and draw people closer. I also hoped the bright colours would give a sensation of urban life, traffic, advertisements and sales, which all create a problematic contrast with the nature of animals. They do not belong to the cities. And yet, the colours would take away some of the unbearable weight of what was showed, the message itself.
People normally think that animal suffering is something natural, something that exists without us being conscious to it. Or, that nothing can be done to end it. This is of course a completely wrong way of thinking, since today we are able to replace everything we need with non-animal alternatives. My intention was thus to turn the focus from animals to humans. We can be seen only in the misery of the animals; when we look at a suffering animal, what we see is us. The problem lies in humans, not in animals. Simple questions, such as WHO ARE YOU? - WHAT IS MAN? WHAT IS ANIMAL? - ARE YOU HUMANE? - IS THIS RIGHT? – were written between the cruel photos.
A yellow chair makes it easier to sit and write down ones thoughts. Crayons and big arks of paper are for drawing. Then there are plenty of leaflets, brochures, books for vegan cooking, and philosophic books dealing with the theme.
I have worked real hard to gather the material. It is also laborious each time we have to hang up and take down the exhibit. But if people will change even a little bit, and become more compassionate in their consuming habits, the task is worth doing again and again.
The Helsinki main library arranged an open discussion connected to my exhibit. I invited two famous activists. We became exited, because of the strong feelings that discussing animals in today’s world always awakens. I think it is usually good that the deep mourning, pain, and anger that most of us feel, must be shown to other people sometimes, and not always be hidden under theoretical discussions.
I have done a lot of advertising for each exhibition. The expenses were covered by sponsors who got their names on view. Many wish to lift their image.
Once I have done the ground work, it is easy to circulate the exhibition around the country. The material will change with time, because, as we know, the bad news about animals will continue to appear. But many animals will also be saved because of this kind of activity. Many people wrote in the visitors’ book, that they intended to become vegans.
People ask me "Isn't it hard to work without getting any profit for myself?" – and "Isn't it hard to be a vegan?" - I answer:" The only hard thing is that our societies do not change. THAT is hard!"
Following are some photos of the Exhibit: