A video expected to be aired on October 6 in New York City’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in the planned exhibition “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” has been removed along with two other works out of concerns about safety.
The museum came under severe criticism from the public last week over a controversial exhibition, “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” which features a seven-minute video with eight American pit bulls trying to attack each other on a wooden, non-motorized treadmill; the dogs never made contact. According to the New York Times, protesters marched outside of the museum over the weekend and circulated an online petition demanding “cruelty free exhibits at the Guggenheim. As of Tuesday morning, more than 616,000 people had signed.
The other two works include A Case Study of Transference, 1994, a video of two pigs with several markings of Chinese characters stamped on their bodies having sex while on exhibit, and Theater of the World, 1993, which was intended to be the show’s signature piece. The work featured hundreds of insects and reptiles in an enclosed octagonal space. During the exhibition, the creatures would eat each other. Animal groups asked that the scorpions and tarantulas be removed.
“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. Freedom of expression has always been and will remain a paramount value of the Guggenheim.”
With the initial focus on dogs fighting, animal rescue groups, as well as the public heavily weighed into the disturbing idea of dogs fighting. The ire grew stronger after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the American Kennel Club stated dog fighting should never be displayed in any way.
As for the artists, Peny Yu and her husband Sun Yuan, they denied their art depicts animal cruelty and insisted the dogs were examined by veterinarians both before and after they had been used in the performance while taping.
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