Guggenheim Art Installation Depicts Dog Fighting and People Are Petitioning

Posted by Krissy Howard
New York Times

A video of two pit bull-type dogs on treadmills has made its way to the Guggenheim in the name of art, but some are petitioning its removal.

A show scheduled to open at the Guggenheim Museum on October 6 is already facing scrutiny after one of its featured pieces is being accused of animal cruelty, according to a report by the New York Times.

The piece titled "Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other" features eight pit bull-type dogs on eight wooden treadmills running toward each other, yet they are unable to touch.

Since their announcement to show the work, the museum has come under fire from the animal rights community, including the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) saying it represents dog fighting. Many are making their voices heard both on social media and with a petition to have the provocative artwork removed, which has gathered almost 500,000 signatures.

#TortureIsNotArt! The petition has received almost 500K signatures so far (well, 433K), it’s amazing!! We need to keep the pressure on though, because both the @Guggenheim and the mainstream media have been awfully quiet. I know you must already be tired of this, but please keep spreading awareness! This is an important battle for our world culture! The exhibit opens Oct. 6th, and the torture pieces are still planned. If they ignore us, trust we won’t ignore them. So here is a new one for them: contact the Museum by all means necessary this week (their sponsors too?), and ask them (keep it polite and to the point): 👉 Where did these animals come from: the dogs and the pigs in their respective videos, and which NYC pet store will be providing the insects, reptiles and amphibians to be sacrificed in the name of art? 👉 What happened to the dogs and pigs featured in the videos afterwards? 👉 Why were the dogs all scarred in their video? If they really, deeply think these pieces are completely ethical and necessary, they should be able to provide very clear, specific answers to these basic questions. 👉👉👉 Contact: [email protected] but also [email protected] since these are questions about the pieces themselves… Call their main line: (212) 423-3500. Ask your questions on social media. Repost this and tag Guggenheim as well as add their location to your post, so that tourists of the world will witness this uproar. Remember to use #TortureIsNotArt so that we can also somewhat measure the wave of contestations on social media. The catalog of the exhibit “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” is also being sold in bookstores and various online platforms like Amazon. Not a bad idea to also report it so the Guggenheim can't further profit from their cruelty. I am actually really saddened for the Guggenheim, that they let this go so far. They should have swallowed their ego and removed the cruel pieces immediately. Now they have more 1* reviews on Facebook than the 5* they deserve, as a prestigious cultural institution. Such a sad moment ☹️, but they made their bed. . #tortureisnotart #guggenheim #GuggenheimTortureIsNotArt

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Created by husband and wife artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, the contemporary art was originally shown in Beijing in 2003 and featured real dogs. The artwork on display at the New York City show will be in the form of a seven-minute video, no live animals, and will be part of a three-month long installation called "Art in China After 1989" featuring many different art pieces. 

Despite the public backlash, the museum defends their choice to include the piece.

"The curators of the exhibition hope that viewers will consider why the artists produced it and what they may be saying about the social conditions of globalization and the complex nature of the world we share," they said in a statement posted on their website.

The artists responsible for the piece have said that the work was created to encourage viewers to notice the similarities in human and animal nature. It is unclear, at this time, whether the museum will remove the piece before the installation is scheduled to open.

UPDATE: The Guggenheim has officially pulled the piece and two others from the installation collection. You can read their official statement here.

Do you agree with removing this art installation? Let us know in the comments section below!

WATCH NOW: Pit Bull Dog Breed Info

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Guggenheim Art Installation Depicts Dog Fighting and People Are Petitioning