Dror Burstein contemplates works of art from various cultures— Europe, the Far East, Israel, ancient Mesopotamia—that portray animals which are caged, suffering or dead at the hands of humans. In clear but delicate language that appeals to the eye and the heart, Burstein writes about the still-life paintings, sculptures and photographs in which the treatment of animals is an outrage. The images depict animals that have been dismembered at the butcher’s or in abattoirs; hunted birds; fish laid out at a London market; chained apes in Antwerp’s port; a lion hunt by an ancient Assyrian monarch; various biblical scenes, such as the Binding of Isaac with the ram caught in the thicket, and more. Among them, Burstein also seeks out images that protest the way in which animals are used by humans, whether they be artists, cooks or diners. They show a different relationship between man and beast: one that is harmonious and not violent.
Meat and Art
makes incisive statements about human responsibility, solidarity, the meaning of death, suffering and art. It offers cultural, artistic and literary enrichment to the vegetarian and vegan conversation underway in the world, as well as an activist look at the fine arts that will intrigue anyone interested in art and art criticism. There are also animal poems written by various poets.
Burstein’s gripping book offers us moments of poetic reflection … Burstein looks
at sculptures and images of animals from a variety of cultures. One of the
achievements of his book seems to be the elegant movement from the edges of the
West to the ends of the East … On this refined journey from the Occident to the
Orient, Burstein spreads out before us an expansive interpretative horizon.
Idan Zivoni, Haaretz
A book that is heartening, and gratifying to encounter
… Evokes respect … This is a book that satisfies, reminding us that writing
about art can be profound. Even very young people will be able to enjoy
Yoni Livneh, Yedioth Ahronoth
Every written statement by Burstein is a rare gift to
the reader. His sentences grow out of a sound foundation of learning, culture
and wise contemplation. Furthermore, his writing is possessed of unusual
strengths that spring from a defenseless sensitivity and powers of unfiltered
observation … The acute interest that he displays toward the object of his
interest acts like a magnet on the reader … Burstein opens a door wide to a
world brimming with beauty and insights, to which the text is a more inviting
threshold. There’s no doubt that the writer carves a notch in his reader…
Talma Admon, Maariv SofHashavua
The author’s main task, at which he succeeds
immensely, is to elucidate the artist’s activity. The pictures are heart-rending
… Burstein refrains from pontificating or speechifying with excessive pathos …
A sad experience, painful, and mainly enlightening.
David Rosental, Walla
On the surface, this is a very analytical book,
positing its agenda in a clear and open fashion, and there is no fiction here,
no manipulation, but there are brief moments at which the speaker, by means of
only one sentence, short, in a minor key, but so very strong, outlines the
proportions and almost makes one shudder with the Zen precision in which it is
written … This is a book about feelings, but actually feelings are only the
result; if you succumb to it and read it the way it should be read, then in the
end you also feel what you should feel … Meat and Art offers a kind of
unique subversion in its very tempo, its very observation, its very being. In
effect it produces an alternative soft, silent analytical kind of discourse.
Amichai Shalev, Maamul
Burstein writes contemporary Hebrew philosophy about
animals, and it is more innovative and sophisticated than much else happening
in the field. For Burstein, art is a sharp tool of social criticism, but it is
also capable of expressing the proper life. One of the great pleasures of
reading this book is that Burstein manages to weave together the distortion and
Shira Shmueli, Erev Rav
Burstein succeeds in achieving something rare: In his
interpretation of the paintings, he manages to cut us off for a moment from
what we knew about the art, and to show us classical works in which the animal
does not serve as an instrument for fathoming human nature, but rather the
other way round. He relates to the animal not as an object, but as a subject.
Dror Sharon, Po Sham
An engrossing and original look by an intriguing
writer at man’s attitude to beasts in art … Everyone to whom art and morality,
both together or each one separately, are of interest will find much to occupy
himself in this remarkable book.
As is his wont, Dror Burstein touches upon deep and
broad issues in a clear and thought provoking fashion … The complex of
interesting ideas and insights that Burstein raises enables a different
outlook, and arouses thoughts about suffering, death, life and art.