Had an interesting experience this afternoon at an exhibition in Figeac. It was unusual on two counts, firstly we were allowed to enter with our dog.
Brief digression to wife, self and previous dog (a Maltese terrier) being refused entry to a 2009 Bristol Arnolfini Gallery exhibition, Lapdogs of the Bourgeosie which claimed to be ‘investigating the latent issue of class underlying the field of contemporary visual art. The project is an open question, an invitation to a discussion long overdue, and does not offer foregone conclusions or rigid hypotheses other than the relevance of the conversation itself.’ Nevertheless despite this apparent openess, a singularly humourless young man on the door prevented us from participating in ‘the conversation’ because of our dog and despite my protestation, “But, we’re bourgeoisie and we’ve brought our own lapdog.”
Anyhow onto the second, more interesting point. Upon entering today’s dog-friendly exhibition, we were confronted by a life-size terracotta sculpture of a seated man who had three heads (one in the usual place and one on each shoulder). Our young miniature poodle froze in her tracks, began barking furiously, then bravely tried to attack the sculpture, which was many times her size (cue laughter from the humans in the gallery. I’d never before seen an animal react so strongly or emotionally to a work of art. She definitely recognised it was a man with three heads.
Mind you, the afore-mentioned Maltese did engage with and damage a large paper sculpture at a vernissage in Montpellier. But this wasn’t iconoclasm, she was simply trying to get inside it (perhaps one could intellectualise this as ‘canine spatial exploration of form’ - but I won’t). Fortunately, the artist was one of my oldest friends and I’d curated the original exhibition for which the work had been made.
And so, on to the actual point of this post - has any one else had a dog or other animal definitely react to a representation?