What does this have to do with art?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What do 6 million Jews and one starving dog have in common? Apparently, that's how much it takes to prove that the human race is awful and that we really needed Hitler and evil artists after all.

In 2007 Costa Rican artist Guillermo Vargas tied up a stray dog and left it to starve as what he would like to call either an 'installation' or 'performance' piece of art. Some art critics say that this is just another in a long line of artists using their work to challenge society. Vargas stated that the exhibit and the surrounding controversy highlight people's hypocrisy because no one cares about a dog that starves to death in the street. I have to say, making an image of a starving dog to make a statement about society is completely a different kettle of fish from actually starving one. And it philosophy/logic just don't back it up.
Starving a dog to prove how indifferent society is - that's some rather twisted logic. By the same logic, Vargas could as easily claim that it was a good thing Hitler killed all those Jews because it showed how rotten the world is.

Surely if you have the pre-existing idea that society is rotten, you must have already found lots of anecdotal evidence which you could use, combined with your own two hands and some actual sweat, to make some actual art?

I think the thing that Shock and Awe artists (yeah, I put them together with Bush, and they deserve it) miss is that getting a cheap thrill out of a crowd lasts only a few minutes whereas the best art (Francisco Goya, The Shootings of May 3, 1808 see image) last and continue to have meaning.
Paintings like this were indeed shocking. If we weren't so jaded they still would be. But they still have great power precisely because we are still dealing with similar situations today. You don't have to claim that literal bodies and corpses are art just to get impact, you really can produce art with your own to hands that has impact, too. I don't know why artists today have lost faith in the power of art so they go running to find ways to create sideshows. It's a mystery.
On a side note, the life and death status of the dog used in the exhibit has not been established, but many believe it to have died as a result.


Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat said...

Good Lord, that's just horrible. That's not art, that's cruelty to animals and at least in the US its a crime.

Thanks for your lovely comment on my "umbilical" post, btw!

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