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April 22, 2008


Yale undergraduates may not be at the bottom of the genetic sink-hole that is conceptual art. Guillermo Vargas, for some reason aka "Habacuc", took a stray dog from the streets of Managua, Nicaragua, and tied it to a short leash as an exhibit 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.

Now an on-line petition is mobilizing international opinion against Habacuc, saying:

In the 2007, the 'artist' Guillermo Vargas Habacuc, took a dog from the street, he tied him to a rope in an art gallery, starving him to death. For several days, the 'artist' and the visitors of the exhibition have watched emotionless the shameful 'masterpiece' based on the dog's agony, until eventually he died.

I have received two copies of this petition in the last 24 hours, each accompanied by upsetting images of the dog (blood pressure/humanity warning) - Natividad - tied up and in apparent distress. Both the gallery and the artist appear to keep changing their story as to the purpose of the installation - to protest against human indifference to animal suffering being the obvious rhetorical ploy - and it remains unclear if and to what extent the dog was mistreated or allowed to die.

What is clear to me is that if this travesty was displayed within a hundred miles of Flea Towers it would last precisely as long as it took to get to the gallery, punch out Habacuc's front teeth and rescue Natividad. That the patrons of the Códice Gallery did not react in a similar fashion tells me everything I ever want to know about Managua.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at April 22, 2008 06:57 AM


To tell you the truth, I can't imagine any of the Nicaraguans I knew allowing this to happen either, but those were immigrants who lived in Miami, so they may have had a different outlook on life than their former compatriots. And Nicaragua is heavily influenced by the Sandinista -- we all know what sort of effect life under communists, even Communists Lite, have on a nation's psyche.

Posted by: Andrea Harris [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2008 07:29 AM

I may have been too hard on Nicaragua. I imagine their are the equivalent of Yale undergrads everywhere.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2008 08:34 AM

Between this and last week's scam, I'm thinking fine arts should be taken off the university curriculum.

Posted by: cm [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2008 08:37 AM

That would be the aforementioned Yale undergraduate.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2008 08:39 AM

On the contrary, cm, the problem is that animal cruelty and infanticide are not, strictly speaking, fine arts. Nor is the display of one's bodily fluids in any form.

Apparently the Faculty of the Yale University School of Art lacks the (ahem) faculties to draw that distinction.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2008 10:48 AM

Not to rush to Yale's defense, but the university has now said Aliza Shvarts' project will not be displayed unless she includes a clear statement the piece is a work of fiction. In addition, her instructor and adviser have both supposedly been chastised for "serious errors in judgment".

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 22, 2008 10:55 AM

Macho flea strikes back.

I would, I'm afraid, have brought a baseball bat to the festivities and ensured that the "artist" walked funny for the rest of his nasty little life.

As for Abortion girl it is amazing what dullards parents who can afford a Yale education for their kids produce. Of course the upside of all that money is that the little skank is not hanging around your house. Definitely worth 30k a year.

Posted by: Jay Currie [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2008 04:14 AM

785860 signatures already. Thanks, Flea for linkining it.

Posted by: fretless [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 23, 2008 11:09 PM

Are we certain that, whatever the university insists, Shvarts' project was, in reality, idle fiction?

Her own Apr 18th article in the Yale Daily News says unambiguously that it is not.

In this Chicago Tribune article, university flack Helaine Klasky has the following:

University officials said Shvarts' project included visual representations, a news release and other narrative materials. When confronted by three senior Yale officials, including two deans, Shvarts acknowledged that she was never pregnant and did not induce abortions, Klasky said.

"She said if Yale puts out a statement saying she did not do this, she would say Yale was doing that to protect its reputation," Klasky said.

Would be nice to know what the definitive story is. Genuine or not?

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 24, 2008 02:16 PM