Is This Art? Or Animal Abuse? Animal And Dog Lovers Be Warned…

October 18th, 2007 | by Ginnie | (Visited 1,027,596 times)

Related Animal Abuse Stories On The GinBlog:

Recent Updates To This Story:

  • From Raven of HelpingAnimals.com (4/24/08):
    I wrote to PETA about this, and this is their response:

    Many stories-sometimes conflicting-have been circulating about these events, and it has been difficult to verify the reports that we’ve received.
    Because the initial exhibit with the dog took place in Nicaragua, which has no cruelty-to-animals laws, Vargas cannot be charged with a crime at this time.

    Our investigations department is aware that Vargas will participate in a show in Honduras in November. It has been reported that a Honduran group, the Honduras Association for the Protection of Animals and their
    Environment (AHPRA), has secured the event organizers’ word that the event rules will prohibit animal abuse. PETA’s caseworkers are monitoring this situation and will take further action if we get word that Vargas plans to repeat the exhibit with the dog. People often
    commit heinous acts in a bid to gain attention, so it is important to refrain from encouraging them by giving them the attention that they clearly crave. For more thoughts on this issue, please visit
    http://blog.PETA.org/archives/2008/04/artist_starving.php.

    Exactly what happened at the exhibition in Nicaragua last year may be uncertain, but it is clear that millions of homeless animals are at risk of starvation, disease, violence and death in our own communities right now. To learn more about things you can do to make a difference for these animals, visit http://www.HelpingAnimals.com

  • NBC10 Webisode Video on Vargas (Thanks Jim!)

dog2.JPGThis is one of those things you come across and just have to blink a couple times and ask, “is this real?”. In fact it is.

Guillermo Habacuc Vargas had 2 children catch this dog. He paid the kids for this. He then chained the dog and used the dog as “art”. He told everyone not to feed this dog. The dog died in the gallery. He calls himself an artist. I call him an animal abuser. In that event, (in which the dog died) he was chosen to represent his country in the “Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008″.

Animal Abuse

dog2.JPG

Starving Dog

Dogs

Starving Dog

There is a petition to ban him from this event, which you can visit by clicking this link.

After reading that and digging around, I found this site with a little more information on the incident:

A Costa Rican artist found himself in hot water with the animal protection people in his home country after using a starving, sick street dog as part of an exposition in Managua, Nicaragua, in August. Guillermo “Habacuc” Vargas allegedly found the dog tied up on a street corner in a poor Nicaragua barrio and brought it to the showing. He tied the dog, according to furious animal lovers, in a corner of the salon where it died.

Here is another link about the incident as well, although it’s in another language and I’ve been unable to translate it thus far.

There will always be cultural boundaries and different definitions of what is defined as “art”, but I’ve always maintained that any sort of suffering is pointless. Especially when something like this was preventable.

If this post strikes you, here are a few links to do something about other dogs stuck in terrible conditions:

Save A Dog – Foster A Dog, Save A Life

Can We Help You Keep Your Pet – Abused Dogs

Help Stop Dog Abuse



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1,033 Responses to “Is This Art? Or Animal Abuse? Animal And Dog Lovers Be Warned…”

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  1. 951
    rutht Says:

    The more i read about this the more i see the artists point. how many of you that have left comments are animal activasts? if so then fair enough. All over the world millions of animals are abused and starved and badly treated and people do nothing until, as the artist is pointing out, you are made uncomfortable and forced to pay attention. then who do you blame? not the society we live in for letting such things happen, not yourselves for ignoring it for so long, but the man who brought it to your attention.
    The more you sign internet petitions and condemn this man you more you prove his point. that we are all hypocrites.
    if your all so concerned then why dont the two million people that jumped on the band wagon and signed the petition go and adopt a stray dog. i bet you wont. it is impossible to make anychange without upsetting some people. Infact i am sure that this work will inevitably save more lives than the one that was lost, as it has certainly been sucessful in raising awareness.

  2. 952
    ecooper4@utk.edu Says:

    I’m SO tired of reading that this “artist” opened eyes and many dogs will now be saved. That’s the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard. So, I suppose “artists” should also bring it to our “attention” that many children are neglected and abused as well? Why don’t we tie children up and do the same thing? Why don’t we display the horrors of rape and torture as well? That certainly goes on in our world too.

    Just because terrible things occur and most people overlook them, that doesn’t give ANYONE the right to make it a “work of art.” I’m a vegetarian and believe no animal should be killed for human consumption – especially due to factory farming. So, should I tie up a chicken and display what it would endure in the farm to raise attention? NO! I should direct people to information about the horrors of factory farms! You don’t educate people about something horrible by actually partaking in the cruelty.

  3. 953
    DeeDee Says:

    To all the people who support this man and can actually read this article and look at those pictures and say you UNDERSTAND the artist’s point I pity your logical way of thinking. It is people like you who make these so called “artists” crawl out of the woodworks and do these atrocious things to these poor helpless animals. And you know what? People who do not believe in this type of treatment towards animals DON’T HAVE TO BE ANIMAL RIGHT ACTIVISTS. You need to be a decent human being to look at something like this and KNOW it is wrong no matter what the “artist’s” hidden message is. I can guarantee you that the ONLY thing that his so called “work of art” did was make decent home beings look at “artists” like him and make them sick. Just because you watch a dog die “as a work of art” doesn’t empower you to go out and change your life… adopt a dog/cat, donate money to various organizations, spay/neuter your animals. Most people who saw that watched it happen, were disgusted went home and did the same thing they do everyday.

    Furthermore next this artist will take a poor starving child from a third world country, tie them to the same wall and let us watch THEM die. Will all you so called “understanders” understand that point? Is that what we have to revert to in this world? Or is THAT not acceptable because it is a human and not a helpless animal? All you “supporters/understanders” of the artists did you also support Michael Vick? If it wasn’t for the infiltration of Vick’s dog fighting circle than all the dogs that have been saved from these busts could have died. So in a way his dog fighting was his work of art? WRONG!!!!!!! There is ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTIFICATION IN HURTING ANY LIVING CREATURE. NONE!

    FYI… I am not an animal activist. I am allowed to voice my opinion and I will be sending this to all the animal activists I know, all the ANIMAL lovers I know and all the DECENT human beings I KNOW.

  4. 954
    Pet Portraits by Nikky Says:

    Yeah, I agree with Anna:

    “This person is NOT an artist, he is a cruel and heartless ba…rd. An artist is someone with a soul and feeling, who gives pleasure to people all over the world, and not make them cry out in horror. It would be nice to see him treated as he treated his ‘model’.”

    This is just messed up. There is no good about this. Anyone who thinks this is okay, doesn’t have a soul.

  5. 955
    Kacey Bennett Says:

    That particular dog would have had a better chance of survival if he had been left on the streets, so I don’t get the point, and I doubt killing this one will save any other dogs. In life, one being is not representative of all others. This animal had feelings and his suffering was real, not a representation. The poor little guy was probably so joyful when the artist brought him to the gallery, only to be tortured for days. I am not an animal activist but I adore my dog and I don’t know how anyone would ever want to hurt such a helpless, loving creature. What a violation of our best friend’s trust.

  6. 956
    violacolor Says:

    if this story was – in such a way – a right one – i think there was not so many people writing about since the beginning in 2007
    v

  7. 957
    Natasha Says:

    Okay, do I even have to explain why that is wrong?! Someone who thinks that this is fun is a complete lunatic. There are so many things that are wrong about animal fighting, considering that it kills innocent animals and TOTALLY changes their way of life. They probably can’t even get out in the sun once in a while because their owner would think that they would kill someone! I’m only TEN and I think this issue so much. I think that their people should support, especially adults because they have more power! YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY THINK ABOUT THIS!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!
    ,pupcraze22
    PS.email me if u have ideas about how to stop animal fighting and animal abuse

  8. 958
    heathrjoy Says:

    If this monster were truly an artist maybe he could have thought more creatively and brought true beauty to the world rather than more death and despair. Why didn’t he save a street dog, bring it back to health and tie it up beside the sick dog…have a Vet treating the sick dog while the onlookers watched what it went through. Show the comparison of sick vs. healthy. Then restore the sick street dog to health and use him as the healthy dog in his next show…adopting yet another sick dog to bring to health. Surely with a show like that someone would be willing to adopt the healthy dogs.

    Or, what about painting portraits of the dead or dying sickly dogs? Or photographs of them? How about making sculptures of dogs who are in suffering…showing how mutilated their bodies become, how they look like fur over bones, how their faces contort with pain and their eyes cry out but they never make a sound? Maybe even with journals of the dog’s daily lives and suffering. NO, that would take talent to do and would truly be a masterpiece.

    No, none of those things occurred to this monster. He was in too much of a hurry to make a name for himself, to get recognition for something that’s never been done before…and it did not matter to him who got hurt in the process. This monster’s passion is not art nor animals…his passion is to be famous and NOthing else matters to him. He has proven that to the entire world.

    The more I see of man, the more I like dogs. ~Mme. de Staël

  9. 959
    pig Says:

    There is a thing called karma. This man is not human and he is not an artist thats for sure. Be sure that he will pay for this act.The dog he is now out of his misery and with god the lowlife man? KARMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HE WILL PAY

  10. 960
    Mara from Brazil Says:

    I hate this guy…he will die in pain…such pain…

  11. 961
    Jopo Says:

    That’s not art even Guillermo Habacuc Vargas thinks that like this he help people to think and care. but this is sick!. Guillermo is mothafucker. He is sick. totally mad. killer, he should go to jail.

  12. 962
    taky Says:

    i think it is ridiculous. stupid and the person has a lack of compassion and respect for all living things, for life itself.

    art is different from cruelty. art can always exist without cruelty.

  13. 963
    Ana Says:

    Can I put you in chains??
    pleeeaaaseee :D I want
    to watch you starve & pass ? (: & the others
    who just looked at the dog & did nothing?^^
    it would make me feel so much better!
    and not only me.
    you’re all sick ;D

  14. 964
    Bobby Says:

    Who are YOU to do that?

  15. 965
    Bobby Says:

    Can I put you in chains??
    pleeeaaaseee :D I want
    to watch you starve & pass ? (: & the others
    who just looked at the dog & did nothing?^^
    it would make me feel so much better!
    and not only me.
    you’re all sick ;D

  16. 966
    Luc Says:

    So, this guy told people not to feed this dog?
    But, if I was some kind of self-claimed “animal lover”, would I have bypassed this rule to help a “fellow living creature”?
    Surely, I would have… unless I was an hypocrite…

    Think about it… if the artist left food on the spot, it was probably there to be given?

    I say the killer isn’t the artist, but everyone who didn’t do a thing to help.

  17. 967
    feonix Says:

    YOU ALL MAKE ME PHYSICALLY ILL, YOU’RE DISGUSTING!! WHO ARE YOU TO PLAY GOD AND KILL ONE OF HIS CREATURES FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR OWN SIDISTIC PLEASURE? HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF SOMEONE CAME ALONG AND CHAINED YOU, AND STARVED YOU FOR DAYS UPON DAYS? ITS PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ALL THOSE WHO WATCHED AND DID NOTHING TO HELP, YOU ALL ARE THE REASON WE HAVE WAR, AND VIOLENCE IN THE WORLD, IF I WAS ANY ONE ELSE, I’D WISH YOU A VERY PAIN FILLED LIFE AND A MISERABLE DEATH!!

  18. 968
    bob Says:

    you sicko, i wouldn’t do such cruel actions for all the money in the world that they would give me for putting one helplessly starving creature ni their death-bed!!! :o(
    hope who evre did that rots in h-e-l-l

  19. 969
    bob Says:

    YOu FREEKIN SICKOS!!!!!!! HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THINK I MEAN SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL!!!!!!

  20. 970
    Chelsea Says:

    theese r beautiful dogs. u dont just kill one to show the world whats going on. they know, they just dont care. if u want to make a difference, take it to the vet and let it decide if it can be helped. dont jsut kill it to put it out of its misery. it could have been saved. ASSHOLE

  21. 971
    Paulo Carvalho Says:

    Porque não se põe ele a passar fome, atado pelo pescoço, era muito mais interessante de ver, eu pagaria para vê-lo a sofrer como o pobre cão.

  22. 972
    Abbey Says:

    I actually felt sick after looking at those pictures!!
    What i would like to know is what sick, disturbed creature could do this to a living animal.
    You deserve to dis you sick bastard. I hope that you suffer a slow and painful death like that dog so you know what it feels like you sick prick. Go die you Fucked up piece of shit.

  23. 973
    christina pryor Says:

    While I don’t agree on the artists choice of expressing himself, I have to say the piece made me think.I think what this man did was bring the cruelty problem in his country and put it in our faces. We, as a people, have become so numb to the atrocities of our world,that we walk through life with blinders on and sometimes we need to see the horror in order to realize it exists.How many times do we drive down the street and see stray dogs and feral cats,thinking that’s so sad and kept on driving.I lived in a neighborhood overrun with feral cats,I tried putting out food and was promptly told I’d be evicted if I continued.I called shelters, animal control,friends of animals and begged them to come and rescue these cats but to no avail.Since I was known by the neighborhood kids as a cat lover, they constantly brought me newborn kittens,which I tried to rear but they died, I tried to take them to the pound and after a few times I inquired on their health and they told me that as a rule they euthinize kittens because most don’t live anyway.It broke my heart.I started teaching the kids not to mess with the kittens so they might have a chance.Everyday I came home from work, I saw these animals and everyday I saw them decline,until I just never saw them again. I knew they had died.Those people who saw the art exhibit were slapped in the face with something they walk by freely everyday and they should be appalled….at themselves.Maybe this man saw this as his opportunity to help the thousands of unwanted animals in his country buy showing us what we don’t do ourselves….provide these animals with food,shelter, and having them fixed so there are no more animals that suffer.As I said, I didn’t like his method, but it got him the attention I think he was striving for….now what ARE YOU going to do!!!

  24. 974
    TK. Says:

    If I was a passerby, I would have just taken the dog with me.

  25. 975
    Martin Says:

    I don’t understand? If this is true and Guillermo Habacuc Vargas actually tied a dog to a chain and let it starve, that is animal abuse, which is a serious criminal offense. Someone should take legal action against him and have him jailed.

  26. 976
    Stan Says:

    I just learned about an artist named Adel Abdessemed who really did kill animals for his art. There is an article about it at http://www.myartspace.com/blog along with info about a bill in the works to stop art like that.

    Here is a link to the article,

    http://www.myartspace.com/blog/2008/07/adel-abdessemed-exhibit-spurs-bill-to.html

  27. 977
    Dani Says:

    You don’t publicly starve an animal just to get people’s attention. Death shouldn’t be a sideshow for passers by to stare at. Imagine that you were chained up, starving and suffering, pain knifing through your body as you slowly became weaker and people just sat and stared. Their eyes forever watching but never acting to stop your suffering. You can write all you want, but actions speak louder than words. Some might think he’s an artist, but he’s sick to be gaining off of the suffering of another creature.
    And there really is no need for all the swearing.

  28. 978
    nick Says:

    umm… if you actually were to know anything about the exhibit in question you would realize that Guillermo did not in fact starve the dog to death, but instead regularly fed it and took care of it. only during the three hour exhibit was the dog tied up and denied food. denying a well fed dog food for three hours is hardly what i would call starving it to death.

  29. 979
    Dana Says:

    I work in medical field with sick people and animals. From those pictures I can tell you that the condition the animal was in at the end with ribs sowing and his abdomen area caved in there is no way this animal was fed at any time and it most surely died. And to see people in the background just walking and talking with that poor dog lying there with his eyes glazed over is so disgusting. We call ourselves HUMANES and let this so-called artist and others allow this to happen? Maybe if this “artist” wnats some real art he should have himself tied up, not fed and have people stroll by and ignore him until he fades away and dies– I mean at least hecould have a chance to break away and save himself which is more of a chance than he gave the dog. Hope no one buys his “art” and he stops ding any shows.
    And Christina–if he can draw people to his exhibits he can help animals in another way that being a part of the cruelty problem. No excuses, this man is cruel and nothing can justify his actions.

  30. 980
    sekhmet Says:

    A nice magic trick for you, that is what i call art mr.Guillermo. Oh be careful when you are driving home, falling asleep in a car can be messie. greetings from the powerfull one.

  31. 981
    Lauren Says:

    I have so many things to say about this, but I will spare you. One thing that disturbs me the most is how so many people could walk by the dog, while it was clearly dying, and do absolutely nothing. I bet that they were the same people that turned around and said it was animal cruelty, but they all contributed to the death. The one picture of him lying down in a room full of people who were not even looking at him is heartbraking, just imagine how betraying that must have felt for him, watching those who used to pet hm and feed him, ignore him in his despair. Despicable.

  32. 982
    Lauren Says:

    One thing that disturbs me the most is the fact that no one who passed by the dog did anything to help it, while it was clearly in great need. They are just as guilty as the man who tied him up, and I bet you that they were the same people who turned around and called him the animal abuser once the dog died, while I consider them all animal abusers. The one picture of him sitting in a room full of people who were not even looking at him breaks my heart the most. Imagine the betrayal he felt as he saw those who once would pet and feed him, ignore him while he was in the greatest need. Despicable.

  33. 983
    Lauren Says:

    I apologize for the double post, i thought i accidentally delted the first one!

  34. 984
    Gretchen Marie Says:

    You know, i did some digging around myself, and found that the dog was sick and refused to eat.
    The sign behind the dog in dog food says “you are what you eat”. Think about it for a little bit. The poor baby didn’t eat there for became… nothing.
    That seemed to be the message of the art to me.
    But, of course, art is subject to argument about meaning.

    Yea, it was sick and needed help but, in other parts of the world, they laugh at countries like America because they care too much about the very animals they’ll eat if things get too rough economically.

    Don’t you dare turn your nose up to exploiting an animal with little/no hope just to turn around and have your own sick ways. Like giving your children cell phones at ages 12 and letting them act like whores, buying strippers, eating way too much, keeping exotic animals in your back yards, trying to get weed legalized, sitting on your ass and watch TV all day, ect. Because you’re no better than the rest of the world.

  35. 985
    laus Says:

    u are discusting! u shud be tied up and left in a corner to starve! i hope you rot in hel!

  36. 986
    Paolo Says:

    Kung ito ay “ART”, wala ng tatalo sa mga pulitiko. Ginawang art gallery ang buong mundo. Ginutom ang milyun-milyong mga tao. Ang karamihan hindi alam kung paano. Hindi lang nila ginapos, sinasakal pa upang mamaos. Kapag wala ng sumisigaw, tuloy-tuloy lang ang pang-aagaw. Pagbibigyan ko na si Guillermo. Araw-araw nakikita ko sa telebisyon ang harap-harapang panggagancho, ano ba ang ginawa ko? Ang mundo ay isang perya!

  37. 987
    rachel Says:

    oh my god… this is not art. This is totally animal ctuelty! This is the worst thing i have ever seen, i hope you get arrested.

  38. 988
    Animal Art - This Art Or Animal Abuse Animal And Dog | Artist Days Says:

    [...] Is This Art? Or Animal Abuse? Animal And Dog Lovers Be Warned… | The GinBlog… What Happens When You Hit An Animal At 90mph?7 Reasons Why Even Ugly Artificial Slaughter Is Better Than Natural Slaughter 987 Responses to Is This Art. After reading that and digging around, I found this site with a little more information on the incident: A Costa Rican artist found himself in hot water with the animal protection people in his home country after using a starving, sick street dog as… [...]

  39. 989
    dghdh Says:

    I think he is a brilliant artist for doing this, the only thing is he should have tied two dogs up to that wall, so if they really were that hungry they could have eaten each other. And to all you animal activists, if you really love animals so much as to want to put their rights before ours as humans why don’t you go kill yourselves and pray to your god that you reincarnate as one. You make me sick

  40. 990
    Eliza Says:

    pathetic. no soul. shame on you and all that support you.

  41. 991
    kaylaa Says:

    It is sick to think that there are people out there that find pleasure to treat animals dirt! This so called artist has a sick mind should be starved and tied up or the world to see. i wonder if then he will continue to believe that displaying cruelty is art. I really hope that some serious action has happened. shame on him.

  42. 992
    wendy Says:

    IT was never stated or proven that the dog died!!! it is not a fact that the dog died of hunger or that the dog was abused!!!

  43. 993
    alexx Says:

    My Humanities teacher once told me that, if the artist call it art, it is art. Have any of the people who are against Hubacuc even know his story? I mena, who are all of them to judge this? His point in this piece was very clear, but it’s also very true.

    People are hypocrites.

    I’m a dog lover, I’ve grown up around them, but I’ve also lived in Mexico, where half-dead dogs, like Natividad, roam the streets like they’re invisible. No one does anything about it, because no one cares. Animal lover or not, no one does anything. There is no proof that Natividad was starved by Hubacuc. Natividad was dog he found on the streets, ALREADY TIED UP, which he took to an art exhibit.

    The piece was called Eres lo Que Lees, which translates to You Are What You Read, and it was written in dog food. In my opinion, dog food sounds about as tasty as shit, and if you look at like that, then what you’re reading is shit. You Are Shit. People are shit. And everyone knows very damn well that no one would’ve cared if that dog was out on the streets, doing the same thing it was doing indoors.

    It hurts more to know that it took a dog dying to prove a point, than actually seeing the dog itself dying.

    Out of all the people who were at the exhibit, no one did anything. How’s that for “sick”?

  44. 994
    LordBroccoli Says:

    Do any of you besides wendy check out issues, or just freak out about hearsay?

    Also, have any of you ever been to Nicaragua? The artist, and yes he was an artist and his art accomplished his goal if you listened to him, made the exhibit as a testament to our hypocrasy.

    The dog in the exhibit was a street dog, and it looked mistreated because it was…on the street. Once again, if you care that much, visit Nicaragua.

    Where is PETA and their friends for those dogs? They only cared when one was forced in front of them and the rest of us. The artist said the exhibit was a message for Nicas. These dogs are ignored and treated worse than garbage as they die slowly and horribly on the streets. There was no outrage until ONE got put in an art exhibit.

    And its death is unconfirmed and improbable.

  45. 995
    ftp Says:

    if he wanted to prove a point how come he didn’t tie himself up and starved himself to death?

  46. 996
    amber Says:

    this is so wrong nobody should even be alowed to starve anybody its just like starving a child or a baby its not art its sick and animal cruelty this man should have to go to prison for life cuz what he did is so wrong.

  47. 997
    bryan Says:

    So this is what people call art? Modern art these days can really be seen as anything, but where are we going to draw the line? Starving an innocent animal is not something that should be allowed to simply make a point or inspire people. This self proclaimed artist will now only be famous because of his cruel and senseless acts. It’s sad that he will now be a part of history because of this, rather than simply remain a useless piece of skin. He is now just another sick part of our world’s history just like the 9/11 attacks or school shootings. If this guy wants his art to be worth more money he should just kill himself rather than torture an animal.

  48. 998
    John Says:

    This is crazy I can not believe that someone would do such a thing to a poor defenseless animal. It had a nice life living on the streets with all those other dogs and probably was not dying of a result of the city’s lack of care for these animals. What does it matter that there are thousands of strays dying on those streets, its their life. I mean what kind of point was he trying to make. Everyone is right he should die and bryan is right to compare it to 9/11.

  49. 999
    Refutation Says:

    You Are What You Read

    “I think this guy is sick! Someone should tie him up, no, put him in a glass box, so that he can’t stand up. Then heat up the room that he’s in and have a waterfall going in the corner. And if the bastard doesn’t die in a day, then gut him from head to toe. That shit isn’t art it’s the work of a disgusting piece of shit, devil, who deserves to burn in hell for that.”

    This is just one of the thousands of outraged comments found across the internet directed at the artist Guillermo ‘Habacuc’ Vargas. Vargas gained global attention in 2007 when he captured an emaciated dog from the streets of San Jose, exhibited it in The Codice Gallery, Nicaragua. Tied up with no food or water he let the dog starve to death, with the title ‘Eres Lo Que Lees’ (‘You Are What You Read’) written in dog food on the wall behind the animal. The story swept across the internet as a chain email directing you to an online petition to stop the artist repeating the piece while representing Costa Rica at Bienal Centroamericana in Honduras in November of this year. The petition now holds over a two and a half million signatures. Angry blogs and Youtube videos call for Vargas to be given the same treatment as the dog and be tied to a post with no food or water. These blogs and videos feature thousands of comments, like the one above, condemning the artist as an “animal murderer” and denouncing his work as inhumane cruelty. Facebook groups have been created for incensed users to rant and rave about Vargas’ actions. These groups have hundreds of thousands of members. Vargas and the gallery have even received death threats.
    The gallery later insisted that the dog, named Natividad, did not in fact starve to death but ‘was untied all the time except for the three hours the exhibition lasted and it was fed regularly with dog food Habacuc himself brought in’ and then escaped after one day. Vargas has declined to comment on the condition of the animal but says he wanted to test the public’s reaction and highlight the plight facing thousands of stray dogs in San Jose.

    “Habacuc has put the guests in a position to question their own moral responsibility. Failure to act to save the dog indicates a process of rationalization on behalf of the guest, which probably considered the perceived facts of the situation: the dog was a stray set to face death anyway, it’s so far malnourished that it will be miserable regardless, it’s for the sake of art and who am I to ruin it, etc.”

    Vargas’ refusal to comment on the dog’s survival has only furthered speculation about the dog’s demise and it is precisely what the artist wanted. The furore over the whole situation has become part of the artwork itself with each incensed comment and angry email adding to it’s message. Even though no one at the exhibition stepped in to help the poor dog, hundreds of thousands have felt aggrieved enough to sign the petition after reading the email or to leave a comment at the end of a blog. The artwork’s title You Are What You Read – it makes sense. To make no action when you feel things are in control but as soon as you’re told they aren’t and it’s easy to do “your bit”, everyone jumps on board.
    Vargas’ work highlights people’s ability to ignore suffering and cruelty until it is presented to them out of the context of everyday life. There are tens of thousands of stray, starving dogs on the streets of San Jose and only a tiny proportion of the global population are actually trying to help them. Then as soon as one is publicly displayed, the whole world throws up their arms in outrage and jostles to get on the bandwagon. By putting the animal in an art gallery, Vargas made an example of the dog. While some people will find that cruel, the statement that he was making about cruelty was immensely resonant, sparking off this global debate. Vargas was, in fact, making an example out of us, the apathetic public. He understood, and intended, the outcry that took place, it was all part of his artwork, and while it doesn’t lessen the impact of the impassioned outbursts of those against the spectacle, it shows them in a different perspective. The comments are turned back on the commenters to expose their contradictions. The striking thing is that some people are still not backing down, in spite of the evidence presented that the dog survived and was well-looked after, and stubbornly continue to protest.

    “With the unlimited access to information comes the heavy responsibility of critical thinking.”

    The furious reactions to the exhibit have come from all over the world, probably further than even Vargas could have imagined. The exaggerated interest has amplified the artist’s local concerns about stray dogs on the streets of San Jose and turned them into a global discussion about animal cruelty. This would have been incapable of happening without the World Wide Web. This far-reaching technology has shrunk the world to an unimaginably small scale. Through instant messaging, Facebook statuses and online forums; news, information and gossip can be sent around the planet in a flash and can be discussed between people of cultures than would not usually have contact. The internet has become an interactive, electronic debating table where anyone can voice their opinion, intellectual or ignorant, and be heard, but with the abundance and easy availability of information, you have to be careful what you believe.
    Anybody can access Wikipedia and write something, anybody can write a blog and anybody can read them. Chain emails arrive in inboxes everyday claiming that Bill Gates wants to give you money or that forwarding the email to ten more people will bring you good luck and most people delete them instantly but something about Vargas’ case was different. Even though it only takes a couple of minutes ‘googling’ the name Guillermo Vargas to find websites and weblogs that provided evidence to the contrary of the petitions and protests against Vargas’ work, millions of people didn’t take the time, when faced with the chain email, to think for themselves, do a tiny amount of research and come to an informed decision. Instead they condemn a man off the back of uninformed evidence.

    The increase in audience awareness across the world has shifted the possible outcomes of work for artists such as Vargas. His exploration into the reaction that this work could cause highlights how much our communicative powers have changed over the last decade. But equally it exposes our almost unquestionable belief in the information that we know is being written behind screens. Our faith in the words written by others has come out of historical approaches to recording and writing our histories and events. But in this new age of mass un-vetted and uncontrolled communication our creative and expressive avenues must become increasingly self aware, for if you are what you read then we must be able to stand behind what we write.

    References

    http://www.theginblog.com/2007/10/artist-chains-up-dog-until-it-dies-is-this-art-or-animal-abuse/

    http://www.pluginamp.com/network/node/3575

    http://www.dabbler.ca/news/parliament-of-one-starving-dog-as-art-%E2%80%93-don%E2%80%99t-believe-everything-you-read-20080411/

  50. 1000
    Anonymous Artist Says:

    I am an artist and to tell the truth, other “artists” who create “art”, most of them are a bunch of idiots. Many have no artistic skills and find stupid excuses to cover their inexistent talent by doing abstract or minimal art work. I know what I’m talking about because I’m surrounded by “artists”.
    What this guy did was sick, all he cared about was becoming famous, doesn’t matter how, negative or positive, just to become famous, because that’s what most artists want.
    Just listen to the nonsense they sell you when talking about their creation, mood stuff, emotions etc. and tell me just how many artists have you heard saying that they create things because they feel like it.
    All I create I create it because I feel like it and it sudden, I don’t draw dark things when I’m depressed, I go play on my PC or PS.
    Many, many are unable to hold properly a pencil or a brush and they become misunderstood, because your perspective is limited. He’s not incapable to come up with something really artistic, why else you don’t understand an artist?
    It’s very simple to throw garbage randomly and explain to someone that we all live in a miserable chaos. Place a glass with water and a withered flower and say that we as human, we who have anything at our disposal, still feel lonely and will go all emo about this like the flower and tight the poor dog and coming up with cretinous explanations.
    Who remembers the picture with the dying black child and the vulture? That little boy was crawling his way to the nearby cantina and that photographer didn’t bother helping him. He took the picture and left and won an award for that. Just like an asian girl who got stuck in water and between some logs after the tsunami. They took her picture and then left, letting others to take her out, because the apparatus was too expensive.
    If we do this to humans, then what’s stopping so called artists to see art in killing poor helpless living beings?
    You do art for yourself, you don’t do it for others. There are more true artists in this world who are starving, too poor to buy themselves the necessary and are shadowed by such excuses calling themselves artists by making shitty art.
    I’m ashamed and disgusted by what art has become today. I’m a starving artist and proud of it. I would prefer to die than to limit myself at something so simple and unimaginative, this is an insult to all art. Using now the word art is just lame, because you create nothing…you make some slight changes to what others did before you. We live in a time where we have no restriction, yet our imagination is restricted because only when you’re not allowed to do something you do it. There is no challenge to our imagination thus no art.
    We’ll keep on seeing the same shit that we’ll never understand.
    The guy is not an artist, art is no longer art, it’s just a bunch of excuses and things that a puny non-artist will never understand.
    And for those present at the exhibition, they should suffer more than that idiot, or were they afraid to destroy his piece of art by feeding the dog and setting him loose? Were they afraid that they might have to pay lots of money for it if they did so? We’re such a pathetic race and deserve nothing.

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