Are we Sheep?

April 15, 2008 at 9:57 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

The story of a dog being starved to death as part of an art exhibition appears to have been falsely reported by Costa Rican newspaper The Nation, according to new sources. I reported the appalling story here last week among global outrage about the exhibit and a reported invitation to repeat the work elsewhere.

It has now emerged, however, that artist Guillermo Habacuc Vargas intended the work to be a stunt to show how a starving dog suddenly becomes the centre of attention when it is in a gallery, but not when it is on the street. The work was intended to expose people for what they really are – “hyprocritical sheep”. He said that in order for the work to be valid, he and the gallery had to give the impression that the dog was genuinely starving to death and that it died.

Juanita Bermúdez, director of the Codex Gallery, stated that he would not have allowed the dog to be mistreated, that it ate and drank regularly, and that it was allowed to escape back to the streets from where it was taken at the end of the exhibit. “It is conceptual art and a work that leaves a social message”, he said.

The stunt provoked massive outrage on a global scale, and over a million people have signed an online petition to try and prevent another dog being starved to death in a repeat of the exhibit. Unconfirmed reports say that the artist even received death threats and, judging by the vehement anger I’ve seen in response to this story, that would not suprise me.

The strange thing is perhaps how you react knowing now that this was a hoax. I suspect, like me, you still feel angry, perhaps that it’s sick, and that your initial reaction was totally justified. But though I may not agree with his shocking methods whatsoever, I have to admire Guillermo Habacuc Vargas’ ability to inspire such a reaction and, in that sense, didn’t he achieve what he set out to do? Whether it qualifies as ‘art’, conceptual or not, is a totally different matter…


1 Comment

  1. oholy said,

    DID ANY….any ….ANY of the tons of money that people paid to ‘see’ this ‘art’ go a starving animal fund? Nothing has changed.

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