Many of you will have seen a story about an artist called Guillermo Vargas Habacuc circulating in the papers and online - it made the London Metro just this morning. People are claiming that he captured a stray dog, tied it to a post and let it starve to death as part of an exhibition. This happened back in 2006, but he has been invited to display his artwork at the Bienniel celebrations this year.
If this is true, it is a horrifying story. However, reports from the gallery and investigations by the Humane Society in the US suggest that the dog was actually only tethered for a short time, that he was fed and that he subsequently escaped; they also confirm that Vargas will not repeat his art this year.
Vargas refuses to confirm or deny these rumours - most likely because it's all free publicity to him.
We cannot, therefore, verify whether the story is true or, if partly true, how much of it is accurate. If you do sign the petition and register your distaste, please give a calm and measured response to ensure your case is heard. For example, upon hearing the story, Dogs Trust Chief Executive Clarissa Baldwin sent this letter of protest:
We were outraged to read recent reports that Costa Rican artist Guillermo Vargas Habacuc has been asked by the Central American Biennial of Art to recreate his artwork using captured stray dogs.
If true, Guillermo Vargas Habacuc’s actions are totally unacceptable albeit unimaginable. Any form of torture to dogs, whether this is through irresponsible dog ownership or, as is the case with Guillermo Vargas Habacuc, through deliberate and calculated torture of live stray dogs cannot be tolerated.
To add further insult to injury the Biennial’s request to re-commission further artwork is outrageous and cannot be condoned let alone encouraged.
We are revolted by these reports and demand an immediate stop to these cruel and unnecessary acts of barbarianism. This is not art, this is primitive.
Clarissa Baldwin OBE, Chief Executive
Thank you for your continued support; it is important that these stories are brought to our attention and that we respond in such a way that our arguments are understood and taken with the seriousness such a situation deserves.