If you have been reading my blog for any period of time you might know that I have 2 dogs. One a pure bred cocker spaniel and a Affen Pincher/Brussels Griffon mixed mutt adopted from the local shelter. My little guys are the most loving dogs ever- cuddly, snuggly and just wanting love and giving as much as they get. I admit it I spoil them rotten. I can’t imagine ever treating a dog, or any animal for that matter, with intentional cruelty.
Which is why a recent post on Margaret Cho’s blog disturbed me. It’s a questionable post, possibly a hoax but it begs the question of animal cruelty and art. Clearly tying any animal up and allowing it to die is cruel and unusual. Here in the states if you abuse any animal like that you end up in jail or at least with a large fine. In other parts of the world I’m sure things like this happen far more often than we like, but if pictures exist you can count on it ending up on the ‘net. Not that undocumented instances of animal cruelty are any less severe or horrifying than documented… I digress.
I’m horrified by the pictures and mortified at the thought that people willingly walked in and viewed an exhibit featuring a starving dog. What kind of noise was this dog making? When my dogs are hungry they cry and beg for food, seriously, sometimes you would think they hadn’t eaten for a week, though the last feeding time was mere hours ago. How could someone look away and not give the struggling animal food or water?
But then for the artist to then pass said cruelty off as art pisses me off. It’s not art to intentionally harm anything including a stray animal. There is a way to make the same artist’s statement with out doing harm.
When I was a kid one of our neighbors had a couple of horses. The horses were at first fine but horse feed is expensive and then one of the owners lost their job. The horses slowly lost weight and looked less and less happy. A field was offered up for said horses to eat and roam in but the neighbors were either stupid or ashamed and refused the help. A month or so later the state police and local game warden came and took the animals and fined the owners. Watching the horses be driven away, clearly malnourished my father said something that has stuck in my mind, even 17 years later "It’s okay to have animals, even if you’re poor. They can ease the burden.* But when you can’t take care of them anymore, even if you love them, you’ve got to get rid of them. Loving ’em ain’t gonna feed ’em." My Dad’s a kinda big tough farmer, but saying those words he had tears in his eyes. He loves horses but we never had any because of how expensive they are to care for and the time they require.
*By easing the burden he meant having chickens or pigs, animals that can feed you. He never saw the point in having horses if you were poor because they couldn’t feed you and were and are very expensive. Another Dad quote, "They ain’t got a pot to piss in, but they’ve got 3 horses. How’re they gonna feed those horses this winter?" Said with a shake of the head.
Sometimes what art is and isn’t is a line blurred by many artists. There are occasions I just don’t get it.