If Jan Fabre thought that you couldn’t go wrong with a cat video, he had another thing coming. The provocative Belgian artist now fears for his safety and is spending each night at a different address after animal rights activists objected to a filmed performance he organized at Antwerp’s city hall, Libération reports.
The performance involved people tossing cats up into the air, with the animals meowing as if in distress and at times landing heavily on the steps. It was based on an earlier performance that Fabre re-created for a French crew that is making a film about him. Part of the video was posted on the internet (and is embedded below), and complaints were filed by Luc Bungeneers, Antwerp’s deputy mayor for animal well-being, and the animal rights organization GAIA.
According to Libération, Fabre issued the following apology on the Flemish-language television station VRT: “I am deeply sorry that the cats landed badly. I want to apologize to cat lovers. It was not my intention to injure or hurt the cats. The cats are fine.” However, in a separate interview on the French-language station RTBF, he stated that the incident was “sensationalized” and “exaggerated.”
According to Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique, Fabre has received 20,000 hate emails and was physically attacked by seven men armed with a club while jogging in the park. Although many media outlets are reporting that the artist is now under police protection, this is apparently not true. As the crew continues filming, “we will simply be on the alert in case of any demonstrations,” the Antwerp police department told La Libre Belgique. “But Mr. Fabre has not yet filed a complaint.”
Watch video of the making of Fabre’s cat-throwing project:
— Kate Deimling