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Artist Allowed a Dog to Starve To Death in the Name of Art-Disputed!
Summary of the eRumor: An artist named Guillermo Vargas is said to
have chained a dog and forced it to go without food and water for an art
exhibition in Nicaragua and the dog later died.
The Truth: There is no dispute that the
exhibit by Costa Rican artist Guillermo Vargas (real name Guillermo Vargas
Jiménez)took place in
Managua, Nicaragua in 2007. He also goes by the artist name of "Habacuc."
There is also no dispute that the reports about the exhibition have
sparked international outrage. Websites, blogs, and petitions were
devoted to protesting the exhibit and calling for the artist to be
uninvited from the Central American Biennial event in 2008.
There is not agreement, however, about whether the dog was mistreated and
died as a result of Vargas exhibit.
Vargas said that the display at the Codice Gallery in August, 2007, was
intended to give tribute to a man named Natividad Canada, a 24-year-old
Nicaraguan who died in a Costa Rican factory after being attacked by two
Rottweiler dogs in 2005. The exhibit also reportedly included the
words "You Are What You Read" written with dog food, a recording of the
Sandinista National Anthem playing backwards, and a censer in which burned
"175 rocks of crack cocaine and an ounce of marijuana.".
Vargas said he got the dog, which he named "Natividad," from the
streets of Nicaragua.
Circulated emails, blogs, petitions, and websites say the dog was already
starved from living on the streets then was denied food and water during
the exhibition and died as a result.
An article from Costa Rica's La Nacion newspaper in October, 2007,
said the dog died after the first day and that the death was confirmed by
Gonzalez, editor of the cultural supplement of La Prensa in
A news release from the gallery,
however, told a different story. Jaunita Bermudez, the director of
the gallery, said the dog was at the exhibit for three days beginning
Wednesday, August 15, 2007. She said that he was allowed to run free
in an inner patio except for three hours per day when the dog was on
exhibit. She also said that the dog was given water and food that
was brought by the artist himself. Bermudez said that the dog
escaped through the main gate of the facility during the early morning
hours of Friday, August 17, while a night watchman was cleaning the
Lilian Schnog, president of the Humanitarian Association for the
Protection of animals in Costa Rica also looked into the incident and told
TruthOrFiction.com that the dog did not die at the exhibition, but escaped
Vargas told La Nacion that he regards the complaints as
hypocritical that the uproar was over a starving dog on exhibit and not a
starving dog on the streets of Managua.
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
Outrage at 'starvation' of a stray dog for art
Gerard Couzens in Madrid
Sunday March 30, 2008
Chaining up a dog and forcing it to go without food and
water in the name of art is a surefire way of making yourself unpopular
with animal lovers. The furore created by Damien Hirst's pickled sheep and
Tracey Emin's dirty bed pales into insignificance against the
international outrage Guillermo 'Habacuc' Vargas has unleashed.
The Costa Rican has been called an animal abuser, killer and worse over
claims that a stray dog called Natividad died of starvation after he
displayed it at an exhibition last year at the Códice Gallery in Managua,
Nicaragua. Vargas tethered the animal without food and water under the
words 'Eres Lo Que Lees' - 'You Are What You Read' - made out of dog
biscuits while he played the Sandinista anthem backwards and set 175
pieces of crack cocaine alight in a massive incense burner. More than a
million people have signed an online petition urging organisers of this
year's event to stop Vargas taking part.
Vargas, 32, said he wanted to test the public's
reaction, and insisted none of the exhibition visitors intervened to stop
the animal's suffering. He refused to say whether the animal had survived
the show, but said he had received dozens of death threats.
Juanita Bermúdez, director of the Códice Gallery,
insisted Natividad escaped after just one day. She said: 'It was
untied all the time except for the three hours the exhibition lasted
and it was fed regularly with dog food Habacuc himself brought in.
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