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Background On the Proposed Exhibit By Guillermo Vargas

Guillermo Vargas, an artist, tied a street dog to a rope in an art gallery and presumably starved him to death. He considered this his artistic masterpiece in 2007.

The exhibit lasted for several days, with the visitors of the exhibition watching on as the sickly dog seemingly withered away in starvation. The dog eventually died, of unclear causes.

But this is not all – the Arts Biennial of Central America (in Honduras) has invited Vargas to represent Costa Rica, at its biennial exhibition.

If you are like me and think that this cruelty is not art, join me in making our voice heard. You can sign the petition online at:

I have started this group to spread the word and get the information out there. Help me by sharing any information you have in this group. You can add links, videos, and photos.

UPDATE: Many of you have debated whether or not this is true, and I've done some research to make sure that I am not misrepresenting the facts: It is definitely true that this exhibit occurred and a sick, malnourished stray dog was tied up in an exhibit hall in the name of art. This dog needed medical attention, food, water, and affection-- not to be put on display.

This is a cruel act that I personally oppose, and certainly do not want to see rewarded nor repeated. Not only is this a cruel act towards an animal but it also sends a very negative message about animal cruelty (there is no animal cruelty law in Costa Rica). There is still some debate as to how the dog died, starvation or otherwise, and this question is unanswered (I'm posting some links below). Regardless of that outcome, I am protesting the cruelty displayed towards this dog in the name of art, and the negative message this sends to society at large.

EPJulio EPJulio 26-30, M 42 Responses Apr 28, 2008

Your Response


It's about the artist challenging you to jump over boundaries and get out of your comfort zone. You can petition his facebook page, sign petitions, hunt him down and kill him, but the fact remains, no one who saw the exhibit did anything on the spot. Everything is being done after the fact.

It's not about a starving dog. It's about people seeing an injustice and not doing anything about it.

Petitions and outrage are fine after the fact. The point is, why didn't anyone take a stand for their beliefs during the actual viewing? Why didn't the museum visitors gang up on the artist and the exhibit and shut the damn place down? <br />
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People love to talk and sign things, but it seems that no one is willing to act in real time and make a stand.

Juanita Bermúdez, the director of the Códice Gallery, stated that the animal was fed regularly and was only tied up for three hours on one day before it escaped.[8][9] Vargas himself refused to comment on the fate of the dog,[5][9] but noted that no one tried to free the dog, give it food, call the police, or do anything for the dog.[5] Vargas stated that the exhibit and the surrounding controversy highlight people's hypocrisy because no one cares about a dog that starves to death in the street.[5] In an interview with El Tiempo, Vargas explained that he was inspired by the death of Natividad Canda, an indigent Nicaraguan addict, who was killed by two Rottweilers in Cartago Province, Costa Rica, while being filmed by the news media in the presence of police, firefighters, and security guards.[12]<br />
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Upon conducting a probe, the Humane Society of the United States was informed that the dog was in a state of starvation when it was captured and escaped after one day of captivity; however, the organization also categorically condemned "the use of live animals in exhibits such as this." [13] The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) also investigated the exhibit.[10] WSPA found the information regarding the issue to be "inconsistent" and met with sponsors of the Honduras Bienal to ensure that no animals would be abused at the 2008 exhibition in that country.[10]<br />
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My question is why didn't anyone offer to feed the dog, adopt it or call the police? I would say the artist proved his point. "Bystander apathy" is a term used in psychiatry to describe the thinking that "someone else will do something." Why didn't the patrons of the museum display moral outrage and free the animal? Why didn't anyone do something? Is a museum such an intimidating institution that one cannot exercise certain civil rights? Does the place rob one of free will?<br />
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Petitions are fine, but the point was, why didn't someone act right there on the spolt?

I know animals are ill treated the world over but I can't believe animal cruelty can go on public display and be accepted as ok. Whats wrong with this world? just sad:(

There is no punishment too harsh for this kind of sick bastard or any of his enablers,patrons or anyone helping to further his career.He is no better than a Nazi.the filthy scumbag.

Kill the likes of these sick *****!!!!Kill them all!!!!!

How is starving a dog art? Art is about creating, not destroying. This man is sick and should be put in prison for life.

What in the world is the meaning of art for that 'artist'? I've signed the petition anyway. This is just plain cruel and sick if it's true. Someone ought to do something.

Are you ******** me???<br />
What sort of a sick bastard would do this and then even WORSE!!! Who would watch this???? You sick BASTARDS!!!!!!!!!!!

this cant be true unless it's legal (and encouraged) to murder animals in that country. i checked wiki and this is not the way it went down. the facts got blurred. read for yourself:<br />

I want to kill this man!!! Can I say that on this site!!!!!<br />
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I am an animal lover and this is just horriable. I would literally kill this man

Ugh this is horrifying! Ya know, if I were able to, I would make it a law that anyone who does this will be dressed up as a dog and starved for 2 days, not to mention tied to somewhee where lots of people would see them.<br />
Maybe then they'd think twice. It'd humialte and teach a lesson.

I sincerely hope this isn't true - expect it has given this artist plenty of publicity which I am sure he is revelling in. If he has done this, I expect he will try to justify it by saying he was highlighting the plight of poor little animals and how society stands by and just lets bad things happen. Yeah, right. What is he going to use next? Maybe an elderly homeless person or a baby - like others have said, chain him up and let him starve and we can all stand around sipping champagne and nibbling on canapes saying how his latest work is an absolute triumph, darling!!

I hope there are no more plans to exhibit live animals in art exhibitions. I do not find it original and i think artists can find other means to promote their messages. I hope Guilliemo has understood the reasons for our protests and does not use our reaction for his name promotion. I think we would like to see an official answer from Costa Rica. Perhaps we don't know the whole truth, and we may never really learn it. So I think we should now focus on preventing this event from happening again! I know it's easy to criticise but it's our duty to protect the animals which can't speak for themselves. They have rights too!

My personal comment wont be well received I know. But anyone who witnessed this and didn't free the poor animal should be sharing a cell or coffin with this sick ****<br />
Gr-r-r-r-r-<br />

I guess greed doesn't care about animal starving or dying and for what, to show art and get rich. that's too much. I will sign the petition.

This is utterly repulsive. How about we tie him up and starve him in the name of art. How can someone be so heartless? I don't understand cruelty at all and it's even worse when you are hurting a poor innocent animal.

Thats pretty ******* sick. There is a lot of different ways to express youself through 'art' but when you directly impact another person/creature/living thing in such a shocking and harmful way you should be held accountable for your actions, whether it is 'art' or not.

Society can be judged by how it treats their animals. The fact that nobody who walked into that exhibit did anything says alot about the rest of that society-<br />
I hardly believe the dog, being as sick or malnourished as is described, actually escaped. Unless somebody untied it- but then they said the dog died? Too many contradictions. This guy is not an "artist" he's a sick, demented, narcicistic, basta#*. Tie his tail to a post, i'll paint it!

- very disappointed in people.<br />
many of us have to remove ourselves from all thought concerning this.<br />
i will sign the petition.<br />
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even though i hate having this in my face, i am grateful to you for posting .<br />
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that is ******* disgusting

This is not right. It's simply unfathomable how an act of what is at best called exploitation can be considered art.<br />
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I'm only sorry that I found out this story now - shared mine for this group a while ago. Hope I can still make a difference by signing now.

I just found this story and I am as outraged as the rest of you. If any of you have read the few stories I've written here you have probably figured out that animals mean everything to me. I agree that this never should have happened and that the monster should be taken out and shot. But I would also suggest that we look in our own back yard. I was an Animal Control Officer for 11 years, and I saw some really terrible things. Until animals are reclassified as something besides ones property we have a long way to go. What I saw and what I was required to do haunt me to this day and is the basis for the depression I have battled for years. Ask yourselves: - are your animals spayed and neutered or at least confined and restricted from breeding - why does everyone think they have to let their animal have just one litter - where do all the unwanted animals go, do they just go away - do you know the millions of animals that are destroyed every year due to overpopulation - - I could go on and on believe me. I'll just tell you one of my stories: I received a call one day to check out a dumpster. When I arrived on scene I found a young puppy, about 3 months old. The puppy was dead. And though I never found the person who did it my report listed the cause of death as suffocation. How did I come to this conclusion? The puppies front feet were taped together, the puppies back feet were taped together and his muzzle was completely taped. Taped over the nose so he couldn't breath and around his muzzle so he couldn't bark or make noise. This happened in a pretty small town where most people knew everyone else. And yet no one knew anything, no one came forward. I spent days in the neighborhood investigating and talking to people. Everyone was horrified but no one want to "step up to the plate". All I am trying to point out is that instead of pointing fingers at others maybe we should notice what is going on around us more and take action to make things better here.

Is anyone working on trying to figure out a way to get some animal laws started in Costa Rica? <br />
Without these laws how can Vargas or anyone else be stopped from starving animals there?

How the heck is starving a dog considered art?

This is a very sad, disturbing account. We are so far yet from stopping the cruelty to animals, and unfortunately, it will always exist. My heart bleeds for this innocent creature, and for all the innocent creatures and humans who fall prey to savages like Mr. Vargas. What kind of a person does it take to do something like this? A person who is sadistic, evil, and savage. Whether or not the dog escaped, was freed, or whatever lies the Owner of the gallery tells the public to save her own *** is irrelevant to me. This dog did not deserve to be displayed in any way, shape or form. What he needed is what the author of this blog states, he needed medical attention, food and affection. May God bless this creature and every living being who falls prey to criminals like Mr. Vargas, and may his punishment against savages like him be eternal and just.

well said

This is beyond is cruelty for profit...that is even worse.

I also signed the petition. This is horrid and should not be allowed to happen. Where were the animal welfare officers?