Interview: Nicole Cataldo-Davies
Exclusive interview with former Brookes student and animal rights campaigner, Nicole Cataldo-Davies.
In 2012 in the window of a Lush store in London, Brookes alumni and performance artist Nicole Cataldo-Davies took a stand for cosmetic testing on animals and subjected herself to an entire day of ‘experiments.’
Wearing a nude body suit Nicole was restrained, force fed and injected over a ten hour period in a shop window on London’s busy Regent Street.
The shock tactics appeared to work with horrified onlookers, including several young children, stopping to take pictures on their mobile phones and sign a petition started by Lush.
In March 2013 a law was finally passed banning the sale of any cosmetic products that had been tested on animals.
The Tab spoke exclusively to Nicole about the experience:
What was the most painful treatment to undergo?
What is important to remember is that media love to exaggerate and in the case of this particular performance it worked well.
The treatments themselves were re-enactments of procedures researched by Oliver Cronk. They weren’t anything near to the actual pain animals have to endure.
Most of the live act was uncomfortable. The endurance itself to continue throughout the piece was probably the hardest. It is impossible to pinpoint a specific treatment.
Were you aware of people’s reactions as they walked past? Did any of them act in a way that stood out?
To be honest I was not in any way conscious of what was going on. The first half, I was so immersed in the feeling realm I did not have a single thought. This was something I was trying to get away from as thinking is very much a human activity.
During the second half my consciousness slipped back in at times and my main concern was children viewing the live act. We do enough to desensitise children as it stands. It made me question why I was doing this in the first place. and what it means to be human. The differences between us and animals are vast but we are still deeply connected to animals.
What is your opinion on animal testing for medical reasons?
We should be aware that testing for cosmetics and testing for medical research are two different points of debate. I would not of been prepared to subject myself to the treatments if I did not believe in the misuse and killing of animals for products that apparently ‘beautify’ those who wear them.
Until last year cosmetic firms in the UK were still allowed to test on animals to research the possible extreme effects a product might have. This refers to cosmetics that may cause medical symptoms (such as toxicity which could lead to cancer).
In reality these are mostly anti-aging crèmes. Many main stream companies use animal testing (in places where it is still legal) but there is no law to say they must share their data. Nearly all data already exists for the effects of cosmetic products so surely there is no need to continue such practises when this data could just be shared.
Cosmetics are a chosen luxury of the consumer, not a life saving treatment for medical conditions.
Are there any brands you think we’d be shocked to hear test on animals?
You can pretty much guarantee most main stream brands did. They outsourced to animal testing factories outside the EU (testing is now banned within it), paying them to get the results.
What other brands do you recommend for people looking to avoid products tested on animals?
Make your own. Then you know exactly what goes into it. You can adjust the ingredients, learn an almost forgotten skill and enjoy yourself while you go. Coffee is a great exfoliate and natural cell booster.
You can find out more about Nicole’s new project, here.
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