Interviewer: Franka Šimović
You are best known as a ballet artist, a choreographer and a dance pedagogue, but you’re also involved in other spheres of interest. When did the need for activism arise in your life, and in what aspects was it influenced by your personal choice of vegan lifestyle?
Animals have been a part of my life literally since birth, we’ve always had animals at home and I would rescue and adopt them since I was a child. I didn’t make the decision to pursue art as a career path until I was 17 years old. Prior to that, I was 100% sure I was going to study medicine, veterinary medicine or biology.
However, life had other things in store for me. When I look back, as a child I decided not to eat animals all on my own, because I understood the contradiction of saying I love animals and consuming them at the same time, even at that young age. I must point out that there are no other vegans or vegetarians in my family (my mother considered becoming a vegetarian only later in life). Through the ages of nine to sixteen I was a vegetarian, back when I had no idea what veganism is. I gave up on it mainly out of fear of the belief that I had to eat meat (at the time I had no access to the internet or any knowledge of nutritionism), but also the feeling of helplessness because I thought I couldn’t change the world anyways.
Nine years ago, I decided to go vegan overnight. I’ve been an „activist“ my whole life, but I’ve only completely rejected speciesism nine years ago. That means my focus broadened from just cats and dogs to the rights of all animal species.
What is your connection to the organization ARKTIK – Institute for the Future? For ARKTIK’s project „Let Them Eat Cake!“ you’ve filmed an interesting video that approached „cooking“ in a conceptual and not literal sense, in a way circumventing the rules of participation in the project? What did you want to point out by doing that?
I am connected with ARKTIK through Vesna Mačković, with whom I’ve collaborated several times before both as an artist and an activist.
I used the video for the „Let Them Eat Cake!“ project for activist purposes to point out the main issue of the entire epidemic and pandemic, which is rarely spoken of even though the scientific consensus has been clear for the past 20 years – the cause of almost 80% of contagious diseases is animal exploitation, and Covid-19 is only the beginning if we continue to ignore that.
As I type out these sentences, a new, mutated form of the Covid virus appeared on a marten breeding farm in Denmark, which could have even more severe consequences. Also, at the same time a new swine flu has emerged as well as bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
All of that happens for the sake of profits and us being unable to leave non-human species alone. No anti-epidemic measures will be able to change that, but only a change in the root of the problem.
You’ve decided to give the money prize you won for participating in the „Let Them Eat Cake!“ back to that same project, meaning the organization ARKTIK. What was your motivation for that move and are you usually a philanthropist?
Animal rights go hand in hand with human rights. For example, the first organization that stood up for the rights of children evolved from an animal rights group.
Also, I believe people shouldn’t be motivated by money for participating in projects such as this one.
Tell us about your vision in activism and how your actions impact your everyday life. What were your beginnings in veganism like and do you believe in a global vegan future?
As it turned out, the way humans treat non-human beings reflects on our culture and civilization.
The truth is that our entire system is built upon exploiting others, especially animals. The second industrial revolution must separate from that if we really want to achieve progress, the future and the freedom for our species. At the same time, that also means the freedom for other species.
Right now we are witnessing the fragility of our world. A single virus that jumped from an animal to humans was enough to halt the entire world, and it’s still not as fatal as it could be, despite the media hype around it, although without ever mentioning the root of the problem, of course.I have to believe in a vegan future such as the ones depicted in science fiction works like the Star Trek series, even though the statistic is proving that never in the history of mankind have we exploited animals at the rate we do in the present day. Now we are paying dearly for it.
Is your activism directed solely on fighting for animal rights? Are you involved in other projects related to the vegan movement right now and do you have plans for future activist projects or participating in such?
As I have mentioned, animal rights activism always goes side by side with human rights activism. Humans are also by definition Animals. I greatly support organizations tackling the issues of poverty, homelessness and rights of children.
Considering I am also a teacher, I believe that education is the key, therefore my great wish is to see Animal Rights as part of the school curriculum one day.
Besides, I consider arts and activism to be a good fusion, so I hope that the future projects will head increasingly in that direction. Regardless if it’s dance, film, visual arts or simply direct action.