NYC Museum To Feature Dogfighting Footage As ‘Art’

By: Arin Greenwood/The Dodo There’s also an “arena” where live reptiles will kill each other — and people aren’t happy.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City is about to exhibit a video that shows eight scarred pit bulls, described as “fighting dogs” by the artists, facing each other on treadmills — a tool commonly used to train dogs for fighting. The dogs run at each other into exhaustion.

Sun Yuan & Peng Yu

The video, called “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” was created in 2003 by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu — a pair of Chinese artists who regularly collaborate. It began as a live performance — the dogs were “installed” on their treadmills in a museum in Beijing. (The Dodo reached out to the artists to ask where the dogs came from, and what happened to them after the performance, but has not gotten a response.)

A seven-minute video of one of the performances will be shown at the Guggenheim in October as part of an upcoming exhibition titled “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World.” You can see stills from the video on the artists’ website.

The exhibit will also feature a piece by Huang Yong Ping titled “Theatre of the World” — a large turtle shell filled with live reptiles and insects who will fight and eat each other throughout the duration of the show. A New York pet store will be sending a continuous supply of animals to the museum to replace the dead ones.


Needless to say, animal lovers aren’t happy about the upcoming exhibit.

“Animal cruelty is a serious issue. I would expect a prestigious institution like the Guggenheim Museum to stand against cruelty,” artist Sophie Gamand told The Dodo. Gamand, the photographer who famously put pit bulls in flower crowns, has now started a social media protest using the hashtags #TortureIsNotArt and #GuggenheimTortureIsNotArt.

The museum calls Art and China “an interpretative survey of Chinese experimental art framed by the geopolitical dynamics attending the end of the Cold War, the spread of globalization, and the rise of China.”

Pamela Reid, vice president of the ASPCA’s anti-cruelty behavior team, told The Dodo her organization opposes the use of animals in art when the animals will be in pain or distress, or injured.

When it comes to depicting dogfighting in art, Reid said, “practices directly associated with this illegal activity should never be showcased unless with the explicit intention of eradicating dogfighting from our culture.”

Sun Yuan & Peng Yu

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