Press Release

It has been almost 50 years since the publication of moral philosopher Peter Singer’s seminal book, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals, which drew the attention of a broader public to the plight of animals at the hands of humans. Although in the meantime, there have been some improvements in their welfare, animals remain, as he argues, “the main victims of history.”

From industrial factory farms, slaughterhouses and scientific labs, to climate change and extractivism which is destroying their natural habitats, billions of animals have suffered and are suffering from unspeakable cruelty while we, oblivious to forms of commonality, have become increasingly estranged from the non-human fauna with whom we share our planet.



International exhibitions

International upcoming exhibitions

Why look at animals ?

EMST, Athens (Greece)

2025 Program




EMSΤ’s exhibition program in 2025, under the umbrella title Why Look at Animals?, will place the animal centre-stage, with a focus on their lived experience, justice and animal rights, and a persuasive argument for the acknowledgement of animal sentience.

Unfolding over the course of the year, the series includes a major new site-specific commission by Emma Talbot (UK), as well as solo exhibitions by Sammy Baloji (DRC) and Janis Rafa (Greece), with a program that aims to put the moral significance of animals and their physical and emotional integrity at the heart of public debate.

The flagship exhibition, Why Look at Animals? Reconsidering Our Fellow Travellers, is a major international group show curated by the museum’s artistic director, Katerina Gregos. Inspired by John Berger’s 1980 text of the same name, which explores the animal-human relationship during modernity and pinpoints how animals have become marginalized in human societies, it will include over 40 international artists and extend over several floors of the museum.

Why Look at Animals? raises the urgent issue of the necessity of acknowledging and defending animal life, which is largely ignored or disregarded by politics, commerce and agriculture; while highlighting the problematic aspect of our predominant practice of dealing with animals as commodities and products.

By exposing the exploitative, violent mechanisms of systemic animal abuse from the time of colonialism until today, and rendering visible what is shamefully invisible, the exhibition reveals that while subjective experiences of non-human animals may differ from ours, this does not mean that we don’t have a lot to learn from them and that we should not treat them with compassion.

Although most art that features animals has been centred on how they are represented, Why Look at Animals? looks into the ethico-philosophical parameters regarding our treatment of and relationship to them. As Martha Nussbaum writes in her recent book, Justice for Animals, we humans owe them a “long-overdue ethical debt.”

In the last decades, advances in animal welfare science together with evolutionary history, behavioral observation, the study of animal cognition, and neuroscience have proven that animals are not “machines” – input-output automata – but, like us, they have physical, emotional and social needs, calling into question the idea that they are “lesser” beings.

Though humans have the advantage of language, animals possess highly sophisticated perceptory skills, often far superior to our own, and the difference between us is much smaller than we think. In fact, it is one of degree, not of kind.

Given this knowledge, how can we disagree that the barbaric, inhumane and often appalling living conditions we have created for our nonhuman sentient fellow creatures are unacceptable? Contrary to popular belief, animals are not separate from us, but an integral part of our biosphere.

Climate change, industrial “factory” farming, war and destruction of natural habitats all have a dramatic impact. If we truly want to talk about climate justice, animals must form an integral part of this discussion.

At the heart of Why Look at Animals? is the need to question the speciesism that puts humans at the top of the hierarchy of the animal kingdom and in the centre of the world. It is crucial for humans to start looking at animals, not only as something worth defending, but as a vital link to planetary wellbeing as a whole.

2025 Program. National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST), Kallirrois Ave. & Amvr. Frantzi Street (former FIX Factory) - 11743 Athens (Greece). T +30 21 1101 9000. Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–7pm, Thursday 11am–10pm.





Janis Rafa, The Space Between Your Tongue & Teeth (still), 2023. Three-channel video projection with sound, 9 minutes. Courtesy of the artist. © Janis Rafa

Janis Rafa, The Space Between Your Tongue & Teeth (still), 2023. Three-channel video projection with sound, 9 minutes. Courtesy of the artist. © Janis Rafa Why look at animals ? EMST, Athens (Greece)

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2024 All Rights Reserved