New York’s Guggenheim Museum Pulls Abusive Animal ‘Art’ After Pressure


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The Guggenheim Museum has decided not to show three art works following complaints the pieces showed animal abuse.

The three pieces were part of the museum’s Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World exhibition.

They include: Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other (2003), Theater of the World (1993), and A Case Study of Transference (1994).


Since announcing that it would be showing the works, the museum has faced pressure from various animal advocates, due to the abusive nature of the work.

Animal rights charity PETA sent a letter to Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong, asking him to rethink the decision to show Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other.

This piece is a film of a real ‘installation’ showed in Beijing in 2003.

It shows pitbulls strapped into treadmills and forced to run (see video above).

According to a petition on “The dogs are faced off against one another, running ‘at’ each other but prevented from touching one another, which is a stressful and frustrating experience for animals trained to fight. 

“The dogs get wearier and wearier, their muscles more and more prominent, and their mouths increasingly salivate. At this live 2003 “performance” in China, a video was recorded, complete with close-up shots of the dogs’ frantic, foaming faces.”


In its letter, PETA wrote: “People who find entertainment in watching animals try to fight each other are sick individuals whose twisted whims the Guggenheim should refuse to cater to. 

“PETA has seen dogs after they have been forced to fight—mangled, bloody, soaked with urine and saliva, unable to walk and barely able to stand, and covered with cuts, bruises, and scars. The ‘losers’ of these disgusting fights are often killed by their handlers. 

“Dogfighting is reprehensible, and it’s up to each of us to do what we can to stop it. The Guggenheim can do its part by simply refusing to display exhibitions that encourage such abuse to animals.”


The other pieces fared no better when it came to public opinion.

Theater of the World sees reptiles and insects trapped in a large enclosure, so visitors can watch them fight and eat each other.

According to The Guardian: “A reference to the animals eating each other was removed from the Guggenheim’s website.”

The New York Times said: “During the three-month exhibition some creatures will be devoured; others may die of fatigue. 

“The big ones will survive. From time to time, a New York City pet shop will replenish the menagerie with new bugs.”

Third piece

A Case Study of Transference, the third piece to be pulled, was another video piece.

The original exhibition featured live mating pigs, who has been crudely stamped with Chinese characters and the Roman alphabet.

It was supposed to represent the dichotemy between humanity’s complex system of writing and wild animals.


Releasing a statement, the Guggenheim explained it had pulled the exhibitions. Not because of animal abuse – but because of safety fears.

The statement said: “Out of concern for the safety of its staff, visitors, and participating artists, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has decided against showing the art works in its upcoming exhibition.

“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.”

(Main photo image credithere)


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