Monday, May 25, 2009

Resist outrage...

IF you are outraged by the idea of an emaciated street dog being tied to the wall of an art gallery and left there to die in the name of art, you are: HUMAN. IF you are outraged by this act, and have eaten meat at any time in your life, you are: HUMAN. If you understand the hypocrisy of people being outraged at the idea of this cruel art show, but not caring about a dog dying in the street, you are: HUMAN. If you care about a dog dying in the street, but for some reason don't care as much about a person starving in the street, you are: HUMAN.

Regarding Guillermo "Habacuc" Vargas' exhibition, it has in fact, been widely reported that the dog was only tied up for a few hours and that he was fed throughout his time at the gallery. The dog is said to have escaped the gallery after one day. Still, this information is overlooked, since it threatens to assuage people's outrage.

The internet is filled with heartfelt, venomous clips insisting that the dog died, they even use images of the dog with it's head down, to imply that it is dead. No one bothered to research the reality, because the idea was so deliciously outrageous. Are you seeing what I'm seeing here?

Yes animal cruelty is wrong. Yes, people are prone to fall in love with their own outrage. Yes, dogs die in the street every day. Yes, art can lose itself up its own ass. Yes, everyone perceives things differently.

But what if the dog had died in the gallery? It would surely cast the artist and the gallery owners in an unfavorable light as exploiters of cruelty. But the waves of international outrage would have also carried another message: suffering, cruelty, and death can only outrage us if they are extracted from the shrouds of denial we place around these things.

I think one variety of successful art manages to trigger our outrage in the hope of moving us beyond it to a larger truth. The artist puts a frame around something and asks us to evaluate it from all angles. In this case you have to ask yourself is the frame around the dog or around our sliding scale of denial when it comes to acknowledging suffering, cruelty, and death.

If you like this sort of button pushing animal art, or you love hating it, can I point you in the direction of Adel Abdessemed?