The Guggenheim Museum in New York City has decided to withdraw three exhibits after ‘repeated threats of violence’ from activists over the staging of live animals.
One of the works withdrawn from ‘Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World’ is a video showing pit bulls trying to attack each other.
Another work that will not go on display is ‘Theater of the World’, an octagonal installation inhabited by hundreds of reptiles and insects.
One of the works withdrawn from ‘Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World’ at New York’s Guggenheim Museum is a video showing pit bulls trying to attack each other
The museum will also exclude ‘A Case Study of Transference’ by Chinese artist Xu Bing, which shows two pigs mating.
A petition launched on Change.org website got nearly 700,000 signatures in a bid to send the message that ‘animal cruelty holds no place in art in the United States.’
After several days of sustained campaigning backed by the American animal rights organization PETA, the Guggenheim bowed to the pressure.
‘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,’ the museum said in a statement.
‘As an arts institution committed to presenting a multiplicity of voices, we are dismayed that we must withhold works of art.’
PEN America, an organization that defends literary and artistic expression, called the decision ‘a major blow.’
‘Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other’ will be featured at the ‘Art and China After 1989’ show (Stock photo of pit bull)
‘That threats of violence became grounds for the cancellation of the works represents a major blow to artistic freedom,’ read a statement from its executive director Suzanne Nossel.
‘Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other’ was made by Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu.
The installation shows pitbull dogs placed opposite each other and tethered to non-motorized treadmills, running at each other but unable to touch.
The piece was first introduced in 2003 when it was featured at a Beijing art exhibit.
In an interview last year, the husband and wife team defended ‘Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,’ saying the piece is a comment on combative natural instincts.
‘Where is the soft spot in all of this?’ Ms. Peng said. ‘Were the dogs being abused? The answer should be no. These dogs are naturally pugnacious.’
Social media users swiftly denounced the piece, describing it as ‘disgusting’ abusive towards animals
Sun Yuan and Peng Yu defended the art installation, saying it reflects human and animal nature
‘In fact, human nature and animal nature are the same. China hosted the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. What is the goal of this type of sporting event? Actually, it is the conversion of actual fighting into regulated competition.’
Despite the public backlash, the Guggenheim initially said in a statement that the exhibit will remain, even though ‘the work may be upsetting.’
‘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,’ the statement added.
Art and China After 1989, which opens on October 6, will feature 150 experimental art installations, many of which are deliberately provocative, according to The Times.
The Guggenheim initially said in a statement it will not remove the art piece even though ‘the work may be upsetting’
A second statement announced the exhibits were being withdrawn because of ‘threats of violence’