Faced with a massive public outcry and protests from PETA and other groups, New York’s Guggenheim Museum has finally agreed to pull a dogfighting exhibit and two other displays that are unkind to animals.
The museum’s upcoming show “Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World” was to include “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” a video of a live event in which pairs of dogs are chained opposite each other on manual treadmills. These “fighting” dogs work hard to attack each other until they become exhausted, drooling at the mouth.
In a letter to the Guggenheim, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk asked the museum’s director, Richard Armstrong, to remove the cruel display, stating:
“People who find entertainment in watching animals try to fight each other are sick individuals whose twisted whims the Guggenheim should refuse to cater to. PETA has seen dogs after they have been forced to fight—mangled, bloody, soaked with urine and saliva, unable to walk and barely able to stand, and covered with cuts, bruises, and scars. The ‘losers’ of these disgusting fights are often killed by their handlers. Dogfighting is reprehensible, and it’s up to each of us to do what we can to stop it. The Guggenheim can do its part by simply refusing to display exhibitions that encourage such abuse to animals.”
The museum’s staff initially refused to pull the exhibit. But as protests increased, the Guggenheim relented, pulling all three offensive pieces, including a cage of live animals who prey upon each other and a video of penned pigs who had been covered in ink or temporary tattoos.
Guggenheim, Bowing to Animal-Rights Activists, Pulls Works From Show https://t.co/vAnIbRTV4s
— Keren Aronoff Masser (@creaturefeats) September 26, 2017
The museum cited “concern for the safety of [the] staff, visitors, and participating artists” and claimed to have received threats of violence. Whether anyone actually made a threat, we must point out that any institution that wishes to discourage violence should not put violence on display and call it “art.” If we’re calling dogfighting “art,” we might as well call Michael Vick “Michelangelo.”
Newkirk responded to the museum’s decision by saying:
“We thank the Guggenheim for withdrawing these vile acts of cruelty masked as creativity, because abusing animals should never be taken lightly and the museum is not a circus but a temple of fine art. China has no laws protecting animals, so withdrawing these pieces may help the country and its artists recognize that animals are not props and that they deserve respect.”