If a Dog Dies in a Gallery Is It Art?


In 2007, Costa Rican artist Guillermo “Habacuc” Vargas tied up a sick stray dog in an exhibition gallery in Managua, Nicaragua. He then had people come in to view the exhibition while the stray starved.

After a few days the poor dog died of starvation.

Above the dog was written, “You are what you read,” in Spanish.

Vargas’ public response was, “I won’t say the dog died. The importance to me is the hypocracy of the people where an animal is the focus of attention where people come to see art but not when it’sin the street starving to death.” “The same thing happened with poor Natividad Canda. The people sympathized with him only after he was dead.”

A few Costa Rica Animal rights agencies tried prosecuted him but had little luck due to traditional latin lack of interest in animal welfare.

The essay that I see taking shape is one that argues at what makes something art with specific focus on this incident. Is art in the execution or the explanation? It doesn’t take a talented artist to starve a dog. It doesn’t even take a creative individual to think of starving an animal to make a point. The point is, this is not art. Although I have always been a believer in art as expression, I don’t believe Vargas’ expression was art.

My personal definition for art is the product of creativity.

The starvation of an animal is not a creative product. I find that this sort of resembles Peta’s shock tactic advertisement campaigns that we spent time researching earlier this semester. It seems that this “exhibition” was for shock value, although I need to research the artists response and explanation more critically to examine his motives.

But at what point did it become ok to intentionally kill a living thing for someones personal “art.”

I don’t think because a dog died in a gallery that that makes it art.

[[more research to come..we’ll get to the root of this]]


~ by Chase Hukins on April 13, 2010.

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