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Really? NYC Museum Considers Dog Fight Footage ‘Art’

There’s also an “arena” where live reptiles will kill each other — and people aren’t happy.

Update 9/25: The Guggenheim has canceled these exhibits, citing threats of violence against participants as the reason.

“Out of concern for the safety of its staff, visitors, and participating artists, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has decided against showing the artworks Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other (2003), Theater of the World (1993), and A Case Study of Transference (1994) in its upcoming exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” the museum said in a statement Monday. “Although these works have been exhibited in museums in Asia, Europe, and the United States, the Guggenheim regrets that explicit and repeated threats of violence have made our decision necessary. As an arts institution committed to presenting a multiplicity of voices, we are dismayed that we must withhold works of art. Freedom of expression has always been and will remain a paramount value of the Guggenheim.”

Previously: 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.

guggenheim dog fighting exhibit

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.

theatre of life guggenheim