Monday, April 21, 2008

Killing a dog in the name of art is not an urban legend.

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.


Chris Forbes said...

Following the links to the comments of the artist, in Spanish, changes the perspective somewhat. One, he doesn't say whether the dog died or not. Two, he points out that no one, no one, not any human being, brought food or water to the dog. Three, he put the dog on the rope in the show to illustrate the hypocrisy of those who decry harm to animals and become various degrees of upset with myriad distant deaths of animals and won't even come to help this one.

So, I think he meant the display, if display it is, to really focus on our mixed emotions if not hypocrisy. Here we are feeling horrible about it and yet, and yet people like us didn't life a hand at the show.

Not that I think that what he did was the "right thing to do" and I would be horrified if the dog actually did die. The artist would have gone over the line, over the top, entering into criminal action. But going up to the precipice to make a strong point (which radiates to many other issues about which we make great drama but do nothing), I think is valid. But not if he let the dog die.

Alice said...

OH! MY! GOD! I just followed the link and the last statement is that he killed the dog! This "artist" deserves to be shot, or better yet starved for a few weeks himself. I could do it! I really really could! I can't believe such cruelty!!!!!!!!!!!!