Killing Animals as Form of Contemporary High ArtA man who calls himself an artist ties a dog to a wall inside an art gallery. No, you heard me correctly - we're not talking about the night janitor who caught the starving animal littering the front steps of the gallery and decided to vent a lifetime of frustration by pulling off a ridiculously cruel stunt. We're talking about a man who calls himself an artist. His name is Guillermo Vargas Habacuc and the year is 2007. Guillermo is one of the artists taking part in an art exhibition that takes place at a Costa Rican gallery - pompously called "Centro Nacional de la Cultura" (National Center for Culture). He pays a bunch of kids to catch the street dog, which he cruelly baptizes "Natividad" (Spanish for "birth"). His aim is to make an artistic statement about the fragility and the misery in which all dogs - indeed, all human beings live, and he achieved just that by letting the dog starve to death tied to a wall, in plain view of the exhibition visitors, some of whom demanded futilely that the dog be released.
On his blog, cruelly entitled "El Perrito Vive" (the little doggy lives), Vargas shamelessly admits that the dog died the day after it was so cruelly "exhibited", but claims that the poor animal was "persecuted" (sic) by other locals and would have been killed anyway. All he did, he says, was to make a show of its death in order to bring home the truth about how all dogs live miserable lives. "I let him die of hunger in the sight of everyone, as if the death of a poor dog was a shameless media show in which nobody does anything but to applaud or to watch disturbed. In the place that the dog was exposed remain a metal cable and a cord. The dog was extremely ill and did not want to eat, so in natural surroundings it would have died anyway; thus they are all poor dogs: sooner or later they die or are killed," the so-called artist brags on his blog.
So I ask you, how is the death of an innocent animal a form of high art? How was this man even allowed to pull off such a cruel stunt in an art gallery - which is aimed to instruct, to promote value, vision, talent, and which pretends to represent a "center for culture"? Vargas didn't just kill the defenseless animal - he made a terrifying spectacle of its death, a show which others watched and some even condoned. But how in the name of Rembrandt and Michelangelo is this art? When did killing become an artistic endeavor? And it's not just the killing - not delivering a blow to the head aimed to put the dog out of its misery (which in itself is an arguable point) - but the whole demeaning and sadistic experience of allowing others to watch. Can't he simply have written a book about the misery of the human condition, like so many others did before him? In any case, except from being a murderer, what is Vargas' artistic contribution to this exhibit? What did he do, what talent did he put on display?
The fact is, this "artist" makes some hardened criminals come across as kind and considerate people. Some of you may shrug and say "it's only a dog". It may be so, but the whole act glorifies pointless death, cruelty and ultimately ignorance for the sake of art. It's like shooting someone and then claim it was done for their own good and so that the bloodstained clothes be displayed in an exhibition. The truly shocking part however is that Guillermo Vargas Habacuc has been selected to represent Costa Rica in the prestigious "Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008" and repeat his "experiment". Which is, torture, humiliate and kill another dog for the sake of "art". HERE is Guillermo Vargas' blog - and HERE is a link to an online petition to prevent him from attending the event in Honduras. Now let your conscience decide whether it's a worthwhile cause or not.