Animal Activists in Finland Use Library Exhibits to Educate Public
An Animal Rights Article from


Beryl Furman
August 2008

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 someone 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. 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.

mater dolorosa
The activist (Mater Dolorosa)

art table
The table to write one's own thoughts

damien hirst
Works by famous artists such as Damien Hirst

animal rights leaflets
The leaflets and brochures

juliana von wendt
Juliana von Wendt + lab animals

food animals
Food production animals

finnish art
Clippings and the I prize winning poster by a Finnish girl in 2006: CAT WALK

fish exhibit

living spaces
The living space of chicken, minks and pigs.

farmed animals

lab monkeys
Paradise lost - The BAEUV- photo series of monkeys way from paradise to hell because of us

happy animals
The happy animals...

lamb fur
...and what became of them (in the middle text about how the curly Persian Lamb fur is produced)

elise mehtala
Interview with activist: Elise Mehtälä

lab animals
You allow me to be tortured, and other information about lab animals

HUMANIZING: in its negative and positive meaning, people do not really know what it means. Sometimes they think that if they leave a puppy alone outdoors for the night, they are humanizing it, which is of course wrong because they do feel fear as humans do

fur cruelty
Fur animals - text on the big picture: Your mother has got a fur - my mother has not. Second: You like his hair - use it

animal cruelty
The + and - in animal treatment

living kindly
You are a good person. That I know. So live that way, and stop using animal products (I tried so hard to find something positive in the material)

drawing space
The drawing place

elfride jelinek
"Why do people get angry at those who reveal the evil, and not at those who do it." - Elfride Jelinek

chicken house lamp
The cold sun - the never off cruel lamp in the chicken houses

library exhibit
A library exhibit June 2008

flower of civilization
The rotten flowers of civilization, and lots of important text from my own writing and from great thinkers.

go vegan
''Go vegan'' - PETA

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