As the implementation of new technology and science continue to be of utmost importance, creativity and art also play an equally significant role in improving the quality of life for humans and non-human animals.
Music, theatre, photography, literature, and painting have proven to have a profound effect on our individual and collective thinking, transforming the manner in which we live our lives and make educated, conscientious decisions.
Art, whether we are creating it or experiencing it, challenges us, opens our minds, frees us from one dimensional thought, inspires us to take risks, and challenges us to surpass our capabilities.
Italian painter, Raffaello Eroico, is currently a resident artist at Mix'Art Myrys inToulouse, France. The Mix'Art Myrys art collective provides exhibition and performance space for resident artists while encouraging artistic collaboration.
Raffaello’s art is breathtakingly bold and evokes the most tender as well as raw emotions. While some paintings elicit a specific reaction, other paintings challenge the observer to delve into more complex thought processes. In all, his art arouses the senses and conjures both the spirit of human and non-human animals.
Love motivated Raffaello’s move from Italy to France. After the birth of his daughter, Raffaello and his (now former) wife, relocated to the French countryside. Raffaello raised his daughter as a healthy vegan in the midst of a rural French community traditionally immersed in hunting, factory farms, backyard slaughterhouses, bullfighting, and the foie gras industry.
Like his art, Raffaello is courageous and powerful. From the social exclusion in a village Raffaello describes as “the black hole of human consciousness,” he moved to the nearest city, Toulouse.
In Toulouse, Raffaello reignited his art and his involvement in the animal rights and protection community. “My engagement in animals rights as a social and human evolution switched to a higher level,” Raffaello says. “Now more than ever, my mission is clear and relentless.”
Having already spent years leafletting and promoting a vegan lifestyle in Italy, Raffaello says, “I got involved in the anti-corrida movement, traveling all around the French towns that still organize bullfighting.”
Although a majority of French citizens favor the abolition of bullfighting, bullfighting in France legally continues under judicial exemption as uninterrupted local tradition.
In Southern France, bullfighting season runs from February to October in the popular fashion of ritualized Spanish-style corridas that include three stages of cruelty, suffering, and death.
“Among one hundred and sixty protestors,” Raffaello says of an historic August 2013 anti-corrida protest in Rion-des-Landes, “we jumped in the bullfighting arena in an attempt to stop the torture.”
Locking arms and sitting in the arena center, security hauled protestors out of the arena one by one. The protest continued outside the bullfighting arena till nightfall in spite of clashes with security and the use of tear-gas on demonstrators.
Joining forces with Carole Mare, founder of Mouvement pour la Cause Animale, Raffaello and other animal rights and protection activists founded Collectif Antispéciste SMT511 in 2012 to abolish the shameful French foie gras industry.
France is the largest producer, consumer, and worldwide exporter of foie gras (fat liver). Among the horrors of factory farming, foie gras is uniquely sinister. To fatten the birds’ liver, a tube is shoved down their throat, force-feeding them until their livers swell up to 12 times its normal size.
Collectif Antispéciste SMT511 organized the first public demonstration in Samatan, the self-proclaimed Capital of Foie Gras.
“It was a shock to the community. Completely unexpected.” Raffaello states. “For the first time, foie gras businesses were contested head on at home.” Since then, Occupy Samatan demonstrations continue to pressure the foie gras industry.
Raffaello possesses an endless charisma; his striking desire to accomplish more as an individual and as part of a united collective is a driving force in his life.
“To improve campaigns and enhance participation,” Raffaello says, “campaigns must be constantly renewed in order to become less vulnerable to the power of economic interests.”
With a social network of animal rights and protection activists, a large and established network of diverse artists, and having obtained event organization skills while living at Mix'art Myrys, Raffaello’s next communication strategy would be his biggest yet, the NOcageArtFest United Talents for Animal Liberation in Toulouse.
The NOcageArtFest United Talents for Animal Liberation two day event in November 2013 strengthened the animal rights and protection movement engaging the community through music, shows, movies projections, and cruelty-free food in a joyful atmosphere.
In addition to the various performances, animal exploiters, including French businesses and politicians, were formally invited to participate in a scheduled public debate, A Conflict Declared.
“We had nothing to be afraid of by inviting exploiters to participate in a public debate and did not expect a response.” Raffaello states. Their declined participation heightened the momentum of two carefully scheduled actions after the NOcageArtFest United Talents for Animal Liberation, another anti-corrida protest in Rion-des-Landes and the second Occupy Samatan.
Raffaello concludes, “I don't define myself as or like to be defined as an animal lover. Love is a spontaneous personal choice.”
“If we affirm that all other non-human species are individuals, it is not love, but respect that is due. Any serious social policy or civil movement cannot be based on a feeling,” Raffaello believes. “I claim for the respect of their fundamental rights as civic progress. Freedom first.”