Australian artist Jo Frederiks is about to open her latest exhibition, a bold and striking commentary on modern animal consumption titled “The Animal Holocaust”.
Having grown up on a million-acre cattle station in central Queensland, Frederiks has always felt a strong connection to animals, and she uses mainly oil paints and graphite to draw attention to the way modern society and industry treat living beings.
“The Animal Holocaust” will showcase over 50 of Frederiks’ paintings and 150 of her drawings, and 50 per cent of all sale proceeds will be donated to Farm Animal Rescue.
In 1968, Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer had one of his fictional characters observe that “to [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka” – and this comparison to the Holocaust is sometimes seen as controversial or even disrespectful.
But there’s an untold side to this story. Far from trivialising the experiences of the victims of the Nazis, the analogy originates in antiquity. For two millennia before the word “Holocaust” was applied to the torture and murder of humans in World War II, it was used exclusively to refer to the mass murder of animals:
It is not animal rights people who have linked the death of animals and the death of [humans]. It is those who were appalled at the human carnage of Nazi Germany, who likened it to a holocaust – to the death of millions of animals.
– JR Hyland, Editor, Humane Religion
Used in the translation of biblical Hebrew scrolls as early as 250 BC, the term is taken from the Ancient Greek ὁλόκαυστος, or holókaustos, meaning the total immolation of sacrificed animals.
The exhibition runs from 10 am to 5 pm daily from 12 to 18 December 2016 at the Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthyr Road, New Farm, Brisbane. The grand opening event takes place on 15 December at 6 pm.