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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muhreenah said...

this is just like the guy who starved a dog for "art".

Vanilla said...

That's right. I read about that too. In the name of art, people do crazy things. That's bad.