Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dog Carpets Are Not Art

What I am about to bring to you here is not going to be pleasant.

It is about lost humanity.

It is about cruel art.

It is about shelfish indulgence.

It is about oblivious politicians.

It is about ignorant people.

It is about our best friends.

Ondrej Brody and Kristofer Paetau, are two artists. Well, they claim they are but to me, they are cold-blooded monsters. In the name of art, they started a project in Bolivia making carpets USING DOGS!

Who are these two monsters?

Ondrej Brody, born in Prague now lives and works in Amsterdam and Prague. Kristofer Paetau, born in Finland, now lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2007, they put up a joint art* exhibition in Bolivia. (*I cringe each time I use the word 'art')

What did they do?

They went to La Paz, Bolivia and worked with the local municipal and museum on their dog carpet project. They requested for 10 street dogs from a company, Zoonosis, who was in charge of hunting street dogs in the city of La Paz. Together, they killed the dogs and turn them into carpets. With the blessing of the local authority, their 'art pieces' were exhibited in a city musuem known as 'Museo Tambo Quirquincho'.

Why Bolivia?

Compared to many other countries, Bolivia has a larger concentration of street dogs. The problem is so acute that there is a whole municipal organisation dealing with it. Zoonosis, which is engaged by the local municipal, would catch about 100 dogs a week and execute them every friday noon. To Ondrej and Kristofer, there is no better place to obtain their 'specimen'.

Why did they do it?

According to Ondrej, the dog carpets were used to depict society's hypocirsy towards having dogs and cats as pets (yes, they make cat carpets, too). Kristofer explained that traditionally, wild animals are hunted and used to make carpets as part of the hunting tradition. In this case, they have used an inappropriate animal which is a pet to question the value of such a tradition.

The duo have put it very nicely for their Bolivian project: "A hunting carpet from a dog that is being hunted by the society".

What do you think?
Sounds nobel to you?

How did they do it?

They went to the pound and assisted in the killing. There, the dogs were barking and behaving nervous. Both 'artists' believed that the dogs knew what was going on. The dogs were injected with poison and they urinated and defecated after they received the injection (I can only imagine their pain). Within 30 seconds it would be over and the dogs were left there lying in their own mess.

After the killing, the duo picked their 'choice' 10 dead dogs out of probaby 80. They sent the dogs to the the local Museum of Natural History. There was no trained taxidermist in La Paz. So a janitor and a guard in the museum who took up taxidermy as a self-taught hobby, filled the gap.

The dog carpets were badly done and messily displayed. The local people were upset with the display and alerted the media and animal rights groups. The mayor of La Paz was put in hot soup and ordered the dead dogs removed from the museum.

The failed project in Bolivia did not stop the duo. They went on to participate in Prague Biennale. They found further justification of their art by obtaining dead dogs from pet hospitals. They claimed that the animals died of natural causes and were no longer wanted by their owners. This time, the dog carpet were done more professionally and their disturbing display was shown as an art form.

My thoughts

Does calling yourself an 'artist' gives you the right to do anything you want? In the name of art can the borders of humanity be pushed? In the name of art can the usual respect between humans be disregarded?

I do not think so. I cannot see how 'art' and 'cruelty' can co-exist.

I am not an artist of any kind. In fact, I hardly know art in anyway. However, I do know that humanity is universal and it is to be upheld above all other matters.

I can understand the street dog problems in La Paz and how the local authority must have been desperate to resort to culling them en mass. That seems to be an easy way out for there are definitely more humane way to overcome the problem. Putting that aside, what made the whole matter so unacceptable is the fact that the two 'artists' had seen the problem of La Paz as their opportunity to showcase their revolting art pieces.

The artists claimed that they are using this controversial route to make a statement. I am afraid I do not get any message other than the fact that they have some issues with their artistic taste. After exhibiting those dog carpets, has anyone acknowledged the message they were trying to send? I doubt it. In fact, I bet the world stay largely ignorant that something so disgusting has taken place, let alone thinking about whether they should or should not agree with the artists.

The story was a disturbing one to me. I signed the petition and hoped to stop this insane project. On 14 Oct, the petition received 5158 signatures and it is now closed. The petition is on the way to reach Bolivian President Morales.

The duo should be banned from every museum in the world and where the arms of the law could reach them, they should be locked up. The horrible service which kills 100 street dogs a week must also be stopped.

Animals are to be helped not murdered.

"We are all alike on the inside”
~Mark Twain~

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Picture Blog #6 : Bubu The Cat (1)

A picture blog series would not be complete without comics.

Comics as an art form, is appreciated by a wide spectrum of people and it transcends cultural, language, age and gender barriers.

Comics can be a sequence of drawing in several frames or they can be self-contained in just one. They can be a long illustration on paper medium and read like a book. They can also be animated and made into movies. They can be light-hearted but are also capable of flaming intense emotions. They can be humorous and they can also be satirical. I can go on...

I find it difficult to affix a definition. Comics are so nimble and they can depict almost anything. Giving it a definition is like trying to clamp down the shapeless and borderless characteristics of comics. It is just like an elephant. You know it when you see one but defining it will make the whole matter less understood.

I shall not attempt to give more explanation on what 'comics' are. I am sure you know, whoever you are. Let's move on to what you can expect in this picture blog.

This will be the start of a comics series featuring Gouache and Bubu.

About Gouache

Gouache is a 14-year old dreamer whose passion (besides day-dreaming) is visual arts. Gouache is the owner of Bubu and the illustrator of this comics series.

About Bubu

Bubu is an over-weight and lazy ginger cat. He was found four years ago in Gouache's school ground when he was only 3 days old. Gouache hand-raised him from a scrawny little kitten to a humongous 9-kg gentle giant he is now.

About The Comics

Bubu is not so eco-friendly. Through him, Gouache will bring some simple but important messages on what we can do to help save the Planet Earth. Nothing earth-shattering. Nothing you cannot do.

I hope you will get to know Bubu more and learn useful but usually forgotten eco-friendly lessons from him.

Together, we can help save the only Earth we all share.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

"Modern technology
Owes ecology
An apology."
~Alan M. Eddison~

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The '350' Global Warming Alert

Today is 'International Day of Climate Action' (24 Oct 2009).

If you are going 'what's that?', you should read on. You will find out why it is an important day and why you should know more and do more. Everyone can and should get involved.

The 'International Day of Climate Action' is organized by It is 'an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis - the solutions that science and justice demand.'

Why 350?

Scientists have identified '350 parts per million (ppm)' to be the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. In other words, if the air we breath in contains more CO2 than that level, we are doing damage to ourselves.

Guess what? We have already surpassed the 350 ppm level.

We are now at 390 ppm.
Don't worry, we are not about to die soon. BUT, if we continue to do nothing, in time, our children will and our grand-children will.

The situation now is as if we have been warned that we are over-weight and that our cholesterol level is too high. We can continue our current lifestyle while waiting for disasters to hit us or we can choose to take control.

Global warming can be a mere cliche if you choose to be ignorant. Whether you like it or not, global warming is happening at a faster rate than before. It is not happening through the acts of God. Rather, humans are responsible for getting the Earth into this state.

Global warming is caused by releasing 'greenhouse' gases into the atmosphere. One of the most common greenhouse gas is CO2 (carbon dioxide).

Mother Earth has cleverly put in the right amount of everything for us, not too much nor too little. This perfect balance is the very reason why life is possible on Earth. Global warming destabilizes this balance. We only need a few degrees change in temperature and many things will go out of whack.

Many of us contribute to global warming through our daily routine. We turn on the lights, we use the air-conditioners to cool down our rooms and we drive around and burn petrol fuel.

We can all switch off the lights once in a while but that is not going to help in a significant way. Scientists say we have little time. We would need continuous effort of a global scale and we have no more time to lose.

We have to act now.

Great effort is required to replace coal plants with solar panels and replenishing the depleting rainforests with newly planted trees. There are many other 'big' solutions which require global collaboration to bring out their effectiveness.

'' have chosen this day ahead of the upcoming UN Climate talks in Copenhagen in December. Leaders around the world will be coming together for an agreement on a carbon emissions treaty. It is important that we know why they are meeting and how their decision is going to affect us all.

Individuals can do little to bring changes big enough to slow down global warming. We need to do more than just switching off the lights. A lot more!

We can help to spread the words and build greater awareness. If we can bring more people to know about issues of global warming, we can send stronger signals to the politicians on what we really want. When one speaks, it is a whimper but when many do, it will be a roar.

Many people are taking action on the 'International Day of Climate Action'.

The students at the Florida Gulf University did their part by planting 350 cypress trees on the university’s campus.

Over at Beijing, China, 350 cyclists will ride through the streets today, starting at the iconic Bell and Drum towers, passing the Workers’ Gymnasium, and arriving at the Beijing City International School.

Those are just a couple of examples of the how people have come on-board to support the cause. There more than 4000 events planned in more than 170 countries for this day. You might want to find out more about some iconic events taking place around the world.

Over here in Singapore, activities will be organized to help spread the global warming message to the people on this little island:

Aerial Photograph

At 8 am, hundreds will gather at Hong Lim Park to form the number '350' using their bodies. This massive formation will be captured by a photographer lifted 12m into the air.


At 10am, a mini walkathon will take the route from Hong Lim Park to the Singapore Management University (SMU).

These events are organised/supported by ECO Singapore, Vegetarian Society Singapore and The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES). Check the Singapore map to find out other events in Singapore.

For information click here.

You can check the world map for events in other parts of the world. It does not matter where you are, we are sharing the same Earth. Share this video, "In Every Corner of the Globe" with your friends and let everyone know that each of us have our part to play.

It is through our awareness that our political leaders find the need to make meaningful political change.

Finally, if you are on Twitter, you can show your support by adding a Twibbon on your Twitter avatar.

Pass this article to your friends.

"The earth is what we all have in common."
~Wendell Barry~

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rio Oh Rio !

On 2 Oct, the world went "RIO!" while I went "RIO?"

On that day, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decisively picked Rio de Janeiro to be the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics and leaving Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago in the cold.

Rio was not my pick and so the outcome surprised me.

Chicago did not even survive the first round of voting with only 18 votes. That shocked many as they were hoping that the Obama effect might have some magical touch to the Olympics bid. In this first round, Madrid was leading with 28 and Rio 26.

In the second round, Tokyo was kicked out with just 20 votes. By this time, Rio was leading with 46 votes compared to Madrid's 26. In the final round, the choice was obvious. Rio was given 66 votes, way ahead of Madrid's 32.

Rio has all the reasons to be thrilled. Besides hosting the 2016 Olympics, Brazil will also be organising the 2014 World Cup. Suddenly, two of the most prominent sporting events converge in one place.

What makes Rio the chosen one?

It's About Time

Rio de Janeiro, meaning 'River of January', is the second largest city in Brazil. The city of 6 million people is known for its samba music, the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer (one of the New Seven Wonders of the World) and the scenic Sugarloaf mountain. It is a city with a definite lure.

It is about time a South American city host the much sought after Summer Olympics. Previously, the first and only South American city which hosted was Mexico City in 1968. After all, Rio has attempted to host the 2004 and 2012 Olympics but did not even come close.

In comparison, the US has already hosted four times: St Louis (1904), Los Angeles (1932 & 1984) and Atlanta (1996). This makes Chicago looking rather greedy coming along to contend for the fifth round. Besides, giving it to Chicago will make the 'Obama effect' a very tricky issue to handle.

Tokyo is not looking too promising considering the fact that it was the host in 1964. Back then, it was the first Asian city to host the games. Later, Korea (1988) and Beijing (2008) joined in. Perhaps, it is too soon to go back to another Asian city since the spectacular Beijing Olympics has barely faded in our memory.

Madrid needed a lot of persuasion on why Spain deserves another go after Barcelona hosted the games in 1992. It was leading in the first round of voting by only two votes and soon ran out of steam.

On one hand, you may say that Rio was an obvious choice. On the other, you may also see this as an 'underdog' thing.

Now that Rio has bagged the prize, they have to start cranking on a lot of stuff.


First of all, funding is a big issue. Brazil has not one but two big events coming up. The country has to get ready new stadiums in 12 cities for the 2014 World Cup. The estimated spending for both events is between US$17-30 billion, according to Francisco Carlos of the Foundation Institute of Economic Research.

Much of the spending will go to developing infrastructure, which include transportation, hotel rooms and telecommunication networks. The Brazilian government has pledged that tax would not be raised to fund the games. It remains hazy as to how the funding issues are to be addressed.

Four years ago, London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics. The euphoria was soon replaced by worries of funding. In 2007, the total cost was estimated to be £9.345 billion. Since then, there has been increasing concerns over how the games are to be funded.

Safety and Security

Unfortunately, Rio as a city is known to be as fun-filled as it is crime-ridden. It is not clear to me what the Brazilian government is planning to do in order to heighten security and boost visitors confidence. I don't suppose the clean-up is going to be easy.

A couple of weeks after Rio won its bid to host the 2016 Olympics, a fierce fight took place between drug gangs and police in the city. During the exchanges of fire, one police helicopter was brought down and nine buses were set on fire. 12 people lost their lives and six were injured. The crash site is only 8 km away from one of the zones where Rio's Olympics will take place in 2016.

Violence seems to be part of the urban landscape of Rio. It is not unusual for major highways in Rio to be shutdown due to shootouts. In fact, in early Sep, when Rio was still working hard to impress the IOC, the police got into gunbattles while conducting a drug raid. During the fight, a commuter train was stopped by the criminals, 2000 children were kept out of school and more than a dozen were killed.

That is it. Rio has high crime rates and is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The IOC is well aware of that.

Despite such a negative image, the Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva was reported to have assured the IOC that, 'if there is a secure place to host the Olympic Games, that place is Brazil, it is Rio de Janeiro.'

While the constant shootouts may seem like a big concern, Rio remains a popular tourist destination. The city's famous Carnival is an annual event which draws 800,000 visitors each year. Nothing catastrophic has happened before.

Rio has one more trump card.

In this terrorism-phobia era, not many cities can boast that they are immune to the greatest security threat. Rio claims that they 'do not have attacks or bombs' arising from international terrorism. Rio assures that most of the shootouts occur in the slum areas. As the Olympics activities are expected to take place in the more upscale areas where urban crime is not common, there should be no great security concerns.

Sounds comforting enough? Well, at least the IOC thinks it is.

Brazil - A Promising Land

Finally, Brazil is no place to be dismissed. The government has put up some persuasive statistics to impress the IOC that it is growing to become the world's fifth largest economy by 2016. The projected growth and the winning of the bid seem very well-timed.

Only time will tell. Let's wish Rio all the best in the preparation towards a successful 2016 Summer Olympics.

"Being defeated is only a temporary condition;
giving up is what makes it permanent."
~Marilyn vos Savant~

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Picture Blog #5 : Camouflage Art

This is rather contradictory: a piece of fine art which is not meant to be visible.

That is exactly what 'camouflage art' seeks to achieve. It takes great effort and precision to create one to perfection. Once it is done, you cannot see the object in the master piece. Well, at least, you are not suppose to be able to.

The term 'camouflage' comes from the French word 'camoufler' meaning "to blind or veil." Mother Earth has obviously understood the art of camouflage. In nature, animals use it to protect themselves from predators: Chameleons use colors to blend into their surroundings and zebras use their markings to disguise their shapes and to confuse the predators.

Look at the Satanic leaf-tailed gecko in the picture above. The lizard can amazingly camouflage itself to resemble a shrivelled autumn leaf. Why wouldn't anyone be amazed at the wonder of nature?

Besides nature, camouflage is also used by the military. In fact, it was first used in the French Army in 1915 to help them camouflage during the WWI.

In this picture blog, we will look at camouflage as an art form. Examine each of these pictures carefully and admire how 2 artists have taken so much pain to create 'disappearing acts'.

Simply awesome!

Desiree Palmen

Photographer Desiree Palmen lives and works in Rotterdam. He takes amazing photographs which let people 'disappear' into the surroundings. His manipulation of the position of the models and use of colors to confuse the contours are just so clever.

Liu Bolin

Liu Bolin is an artist from Shanghai, China who uses camouflage art to depict his unhappiness with the actions of the Government. Put aside the fact that his art is largely politically inspired, lean closer and scrutinize the precision he has put into his art. (via

"If we all showed our true colors,
we'd have one beautiful rainbow."

~Tracy Hardy~

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