Dogs have had a constant presence in my life. Their relevance in one’s life can have huge proportions as does their presence in art. They’re not only present in portraits, partnering their fellow humans, but also often portrayed by themselves. Sometimes they turn into brands, sometimes they turn into pop objects, often they serve decorative purposes. Their presence in artistic circles is significant. Understandably. Artists tend to live out-of-the-ordinary lives, sometimes working alone for several hours that turn into days and weeks, sometimes having too much time on their hands, a confluence of circumstances that seems perfect to choose dogs as everyday partners. I’m immediately reminded of several (terrible) works depicting dogs, not even worth mentioning and what I chose to present here is a very short selection of visual works addressing dogs and their nature.

I – Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

SC_Pub_Araya_Rasdjarmrearnsook_issuu© Araya RasdjarmrearnsookPray, bless us with rice and curry our great moon, 2012. Video still.

«Dogs appear regularly in Rasdjarmrearnsook’s more recent works, embodying vitality for her. In her daily life, the artist cares for strays, feeding them at her workplace, Chiang Mai University, and keeping several in her home. Like Davis, Rasdjarmrearnsook flirts at times with anthropomorphization, using poetics to open a window into the lives of her “companion species.”13 As in her work with corpses, she sides with her subjects, forging subjective alliances in shared isolation. The intimacy she keeps with the dogs––in The Treachery of the Moon (2012), they sit with her watching Thai soap operas interspersed with violent news footage, and in Pray, bless us with rice and curry (2012), they eat with her––ventures into Donna Haraway’s notion of “becoming worldly,” a revision of the entanglement of “being with” animals that Jacques Derrida explores in The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow). The dog has particular connotations in Thailand. Stray dogs are ubiquitous in urban centers and villages, and in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, monks must share food with them. Although dogs have this unique status through religious tradition, they are still considered inferior beings: the word for animal, sat, is used as an insult, and the word for dog, maa, is also used to denigrate people of various races and classes.16 What does it mean for Rasdjarmrearnsook to join the dogs? And what does it mean for her to invite them to watch TV, visit the beach, or attend a dinner party with her?» excerpt from a text by by Ruba Katrib present in an exhibition catalog.

II – Francis Alÿs

c-magazine-107© Francis Alÿs (in collaboration with Rafael Ortega), Gringo, 2003, Mexico, video documentation of an action.

III – Sohrab Hura

«It was in the summer of 1999 when my mother was diagnosed with an acute case of Paranoid Schizophrenia. I was 17 then. The doctors, in retrospect, had said that she had already started developing the symptoms many years prior to that. Symptoms that nobody had noticed. But it was the break up with my father that caused her condition to suddenly come alive and then deteriorate. Over the years, the walls of our home started to peel off, people had stopped coming to our home because my mother was too scared to let anybody in and all that remained were the traces of a life that no longer existed. Our initial years were spent hiding from the world. Hers out of paranoia and mine out of embarrassment and anger at who she had become. But after all these years I’ve realized that my mother had never stopped loving me. (…)

Over the years when my mother’s condition started to improve I started to photograph at home more. Apart from my mother the focus of the photographs also included her dog Elsa who had been her sole companion at home for many years and also the house itself whose condition deteriorated or improved as my mother’s illness regressed or progressed. Her relationship with Elsa which had substituted intimate human contact as simple as touch or conversation all these years, had played a big part in my mother’s improvement. In the late winter of 2014 Elsa died having grown old in her 13th year. That winter was a strange one because for the first time it had rained everyday and the sun wasn’t seen on most days. Towards the end my mother had even opened up to my father with whom she had separated almost 15 years ago. It was her separation with him that had triggered her illness in the first place.» excerpt from Sohrab’s statement.

India. 2009. Ma and Elsa sleeping© Sohrab Hura, India. 2009, Ma and Elsa sleeping, from the series Sweet Life

INDIA. 2009. Ma and Elsa fighting over something© Sohrab Hura, INDIA. 2009, Ma and Elsa fighting over something, from the series Sweet Life

INDIA. 2011. Elsa waiting to play with someone© Sohrab HuraINDIA. 2010/11. Elsa waiting to play with someone, from the series Sweet Life

NDIA. 2014. Elsa not able to move.© Sohrab Hura, Elsa Not Able to Move, from the series Sweet Life

INDIA. 2014© Sohrab Hura, India, 2014, from the series Sweet Life

IV – Mark Peckmezian

dog_04© Mark PeckmezianUntitled.

dog_03© Mark Peckmezian, Untitled.

Mark_Peckmezian_020© Mark Peckmezian, Untitled.

V – António Júlio Duarte

ajd_021© António Júlio Duarte, from the series East West, 1990 – 1994.

Lotus_006© António Júlio Duarte, from the series Lotus, 1999.

023© António Júlio Duarte, from the series Jesus Never Fails, 2004.

VI – Scott Alario

1600x120067© Scott Alario, from the series Our Fable.

1600x120090© Scott Alario, from the series Our Fable.

1600x1200© Scott Alario, from the series What we Conjure.

VII – Andrew Fladeboe

«My Fulbright experience began in Cromwell, the furthest point from the sea in New Zealand. I spent 10 days working on a merino sheep station familiarizing myself with their practices and how they use their dogs to guide the sheep. They really put me to work, and while I was still getting over jet lag I was already pulling out Scottish thistle and learning just how long a day is for the average Kiwi farmer. Despite the hard work, I learned to love the long days in the fresh air and see just how instrumental a team of dogs is to practically any sheep farm.

After this “farm boot camp”, I bought a car and have been moving along to different locations trying to do as much photographing as I can before winter. My first stops were a few stations in the Hanmer Springs area. I took part in a muster that moved 3,000 ewes over a mountain and down a valley through a dense fog. Using whistled commands, the shepherd was able to situate the dogs to gather the sheep from over 100 yards away and move them along over the rough terrain. It was incredible seeing these dogs work tirelessly for their masters with an intelligence that shows the ability to think ahead and solve problems.

I often get asked why I would travel to the other side of the world to photograph dogs working on farms. I think the answer lies in the fact that working dogs serve a distinctive and crucial role economically, historically, and culturally in New Zealand. The working dogs in New Zealand were vital to the development of the country. New Zealand achieved its early wealth through the sheep industry which dominated the economy from 1856 to the 1980s. With the landscape of New Zealand offering vast expanses of territory and steep terrain, it would be impossible to farm sheep without the help of dogs.» excerpt from Grantee Voice: Andrew Fladeboe – Photographing in the shepherd’s realm | Fulbright New Zealand.

SheepDogs© Andrew FladeboeSheepdogs, 2011, from The Shepherd’s Realm.

Scooter© Andrew Fladeboe, Scooter Backing Sheep, 2014, from The Shepherd’s Realm (Volume III: New Zealand).

thePack© Andrew Fladeboe, Leader of the Pack, 2014, from The Shepherd’s Realm (Volume III: New Zealand).

Gåte© Andrew Fladeboe, Gâte and the Troll Boulders, Lundehund, 2013, from The Shepherd’s Realm (Volume II: Norway).

Dilko of Stokke© Andrew Fladeboe, Dilko of Stokke, Buhund, 2013, from The Shepherd’s Realm (Volume II: Norway).

Senja_of_Jonsvatnet_1024© Andrew Fladeboe, Senja of Jonsvatnet, Lundehund, 2013, from The Shepherd’s Realm (Volume II: Norway).

VIII – Mathias de Lattre

«Looking Back through history, many kings have favored Galgos ands Podencos; and they are also finely represented in numerous paintings. And yet, some of these dogs that we consider »born into nobility » could have been better off not being born at all – often, they are mistreated by their masters for underperforming during hunts. Beaten, abandoned or actually tortured to death, these Iberian greyhounds have been taken in by families, non-profit groups or breeders. Mathias de Lattre started taking photos of these unfortunate animals from Spain and Portugal in 2012. the sad look in their eyes, seemingly a remnant of their past suffering, very quickly made the young photographer think he should take their picture in the environment that destiny had found for them. Found through friends of friends or during walks, it was as if these dogs had become gifted with what we narcissistically call « humanity ». That is what Mathias de Lattre wanted to show in his photos while remaining in the style of portraiture that h prefers. In their new homes, the Galgos ans Podencos become the photographer’s models, ans their story disappears behind their appearance – Doug relaxes in a patterned chair, Lola glows in black and white and Gazhal sits in a winter garden setting. Eschewing the anthropomorphism of fables, circumventing the profusion of the bestiary, these greyhounds from southern Europe show themselves in especial st of portraits, fragile and magnificent.» text by Hervé Le Goff.

Aitch© Mathias de Lattre, Aitch, from the series Salvados.

Aitch© Mathias de Lattre, Lili, from the series Salvados.

Aitch© Mathias de Lattre, Kyra, from the series Salvados.

Aitch© Mathias de Lattre, Reina, from the series Salvados.

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