How did this become art? On dying dogs and animal exhibitions.

A couple of years ago, Molly Velasco, a graduate of College of Saint Benilde’s Multimedia Arts program, ranted about the Exposición N° 1 art exhibit of Guillermo Vargas Habacuc. Molly — and thousands of other humane artists — had every right to be livid: part of the exhibit was an emaciated dog, tied to a wall.  The “installation art” was, well…all about getting to watch the dog die slowly of starvation. The artist had the dog captured by two kids so that he could use the dog, whom he named Natividad, for this purpose.

While Natividad was alive, people just went around and ogled him, not handing him any food or drink. This seems to be what Vargas wanted to illustrate, that dogs lead miserable lives and that people are generally apathetic about it. I’ve read various reasons as to why he’d do this kind of installation art and in my mind, not one of them could justify the cruelty he subjected this dog to.

Personally, I find it disgusting.  I’d like to know how he would feel if I tied him to a wall and let him starve to death and then I’d make an artist’s statement of: “This is how miserable people live. Many die everyday and yet the fortunate ones are apathetic.”

(Ironically, Vargas is a multi-awarded artist. Hm, if there’s such thing as “Blood Diamonds”, looks like there are also “Blood Awards.”)

Some of the artists who actually agree with Vargas argue that the exhibit was inspired by Marcel Duchamp, one of the proponents of Dadaism. The Dada artists’ goal is to reject what the world is becoming. Meaning, the more acceptable to the public your art is, the more it could not be considered Dada art.

All I know is that Duchamp never used live animals to prove a point.

11 Comments

  1. papaviktor

    June 28, 2010 at 4:19 am

    art pushes the boundaries of EVERYTHING…i don't agree with it, nor do i disagree with this piece…but like any artist, it's a matter of standing by your work.

    if they (the art and the artist) have triggered a nerve or a reaction, even a public outcry, and it is the point or the basic core of the piece to draw such a response…then it worked…

    cruel, or wrong, or even bordering insane, it unfortunately worked.

  2. Mommy Rubz

    June 28, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Gosh! What a loser! Using a dog to show art? Where in the world does his brain came from?

    PETA should know about this!

  3. Anonymous

    June 28, 2010 at 5:21 am

    how would mr. guillermo vargas habacuc feel if i tie him to the wall and slowly watch him die and tell the whole world that its ART?!!! shame on him! our legislators should enact laws that would punish people like him…its animal cruelty, plain and simple…

  4. skysenshi

    June 28, 2010 at 6:13 am

    @papavik
    We can say the same thing about science, that it pushes the boundaries of everything. Still doesn't make it ethical. 🙂

    @Mommy Rubz
    Unfortunately, some contemporary artists think like this. 🙁

    @Anonymous
    I felt exactly the same way. 🙁

  5. DJ (Dong Jong)

    June 28, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Ang Sick! I felt sad that they'd have to kill a dog for the sake of art, I always believe there's no art in death, pero some actually thinks there's art from dying or dead stuff, grabe lang as in…

  6. Kotan

    June 28, 2010 at 9:10 am

    some artists really push that far to toggle with lives… i wonder if he'll even go to that blood art of cutting his own dick and painting with it… but hey, it's his style.

    though personally, i don't like the way the artist used the dog for simply 'installation art' purposes. it's just downright cruel and sad imho… it's a dog with a capable mind of a 3yr old kid dying out of starvation… but hey, that's just me.

  7. paul adrian

    June 28, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    i'm an animal lover… my dad breeds dogs… Maybe mom already shared to you that story when i cried while watching a chicken butcher “hurting” the chicken…

    BUt this piece of work isn't new. The usual pieces centered on many ARTAPRE and AESTHET debates feature these kinds of works… And over those many incidents, I guess what we've proven is that ART WILL ALWAYS MAKE A POINT. It may have taken the wrong road, but it got across,anyway. Ethics will be a separate house. MOre debates!

    not saying it's right though.Your Ranting Hatter pulls out and throws out a spear to these incidents of animal cruelty… But to the artists, well. Hats off, they managed to make it in your site. 🙂

  8. skysenshi

    June 28, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    @paul
    nope, these types of art are not new. i just think it's high time i wrote about them. 🙂

    the good thing that came out from writing about artists like these is that countries they visit become aware of what they're capable of. he was about to repeat this “art” in honduras but he has been investigated so that no live animals will be abused in honduras.

    like i mentioned earlier, the same thing can be said about science. it can make a point to this kind of extreme. doesn't make it ethical, though. 🙂

  9. skysenshi

    September 28, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    @paul
    nope, these types of art are not new. i just think it's high time i wrote about them. 🙂

    the good thing that came out from writing about artists like these is that countries they visit become aware of what they're capable of. he was about to repeat this “art” in honduras but he has been investigated so that no live animals will be abused in honduras.

    like i mentioned earlier, the same thing can be said about science. it can make a point to this kind of extreme. doesn't make it ethical, though. 🙂

  10. Lilangel001

    May 22, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I would like to tie him to a wall in the name of art. Let's all watch the suffering artist die! This is insane and so in anyone that thinks this is art. He should go to jail along any other idiots that think this makes any kind of statement other than a cruel and criminal one! 

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