A friend sent me an e-mail with a link to sign a petition. Included in the message were several photos of a dog tied to a short rope, getting progressively thinner as he was being starved to death. Wimp that I am, I actually didn't look at all the photos to see him withering away but I got the idea. And it is a bad idea. A really bad one. I decided it must be an urban legend, one of those crazy posts that gets sent around the Internet gathering a big head of steam only to be outed as a hoax. It just couldn't be true. A dog starving in an art gallery as an exhibit? It's too obscene.
A couple of days went by and the story and outrageous images started showing up in more places. I googled the artist, Guillermo Habacuc Vargas, followed a link and much to my amazement and dismay, this is looking more real by the minute. The site has several versions of the artist's statement explaining the exhibit:
We see how he is changing his statement, depending on how the public reactions are - first statement was "the dog would have died anyway" - second statement was "I cannot say if the dog died or not" - third statement was "I wanted to do it to remember Mr.Natividad Canda" [the burglar killed by guard dogs] - fourth statement was "I did the exhibition to show the terrible situation of street dogs".... etc...How can any art gallery have shown this abuse? I can't imagine who could have gone to the exhibit and walked away silently, allowing the dog to suffer. I'm certain there are many who would like Guillermo to spend a little time himself living the life of the "starving artist".
I am just the messenger. An outraged messenger. And a saddened one.