06 November 2007

Kill the Art that Kills

I was amazed at the tremendous response I got from sending an SOS SMS to most of my friends asking them to sign a petition to ban the artist who practically killed a dog by installing the poor animal to starve as part of his exhibition in an art gallery (Check previous post).

Friends I have not communicated with in years have practically burned my lines in anguish. I have to re-charge my mobile phone twice the whole day in the midst of giving my own four hounds a bath, fumigating the hounds kennels and area, washing the hounds pillows and towels, drying the hounds pillows under the sun, etc. etc. In the end I have to postpone my work for the next day! I am practically a full-time hounds keeper. A tired but happy keeper.

But my friends were not happy with my SMS. My friend Inma said it made her depressed. Most of my friends shared Inma’s feelings. They all wanted to tie the artist in the gallery to die in the exact manner he did to the poor dog. My hounds friends all over the world (they have more friends than me since I don't do Friendster) felt the same way. Although I was enraged when I read that news, I did not think it wise to get so emotional and irrational.

Since I am too late to rescue the poor dog, I signed the petition and wrote the gallery to condemn their abuse of curatorial authority. My friends and my hounds friends did the same. Hopefully, all these actions will reach the proper authorities and proper action will be done which is to cancel the participation of the artist from the Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008 to remind him that there is no excuse or justification to hurt and abuse creatures like animals and yes, even people in portraying the angst and sufferings of this world. A true genius (which is what art is all about) would be able to come up with equally compelling but not mindless concepts in his artistic work suitable for expensive public exhibitions. Second, that the gallery and their curatorial staff would be more prudent in allowing artist and art that promote shock value instead of artistic maturity and creative genius. And third, that art viewers should be less passive and intimidated by what they see in art galleries. If I was present in that exhibition, I would feed the dog, demand that the gallery release the dog from the installation and threaten to sue them if they don’t and call the authorities for legal action.

And I ask again: What are YOU going to do if you witness a dog TIED anywhere with no water and starving? You do the same thing. You stop, feed him, and look for the owner to inform him that there is a law Republic Act 8485 that punishes irresponsible dog owners or anyone abusing animals.

This “starving dog issue” finds resonance in Philippine society. In a culture that looks down at anything “local” like calling ‘dirty ice cream’ for the local sorbetes, ‘askal’ or stray to refer to local Philippine dogs, maintaining a clean and dirty kitchen, and animal lovers who keep their purebreds inside their house to sleep with them while installing their local dog Bantay to man the house outside and treated differently, not to mention tolerating dog fights and dog pulutan.

So much is needed to really appreciate the essence of the law against nature and its inhabitants. Just as it is imperative to look at the genius in art beyond the spaced-out concepts, expensive and commercial productions and contrived machinations of the art industry. To look at a paradigm of creatives that break borders and walls, differences in culture and breeds. To be responsible caretakers of our communities and regard it as cool. To simply love and care well for everyone including animals and nature and capture its beauty in our art and yes, even in our veiled eyes.

Meanwhile, I huddle my hounds together as I light a candle each night for a week for the poor dog and all the abused creatures (including man) that this cool, techie generation has chosen to ignore on their way . . . In time our grief we will see the light . . .

"Sommos un circolo, dendre d’un circolo, sin principio, y sin final . . .”