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© Jason Falchook.
© Jason Falchook.
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dOGUMENTA Offers Culture for Canines in the Dog Days of Summer

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 21 June 2017
America’s premiere art exhibition created and curated specifically for dogs opens in New York on August 11, 2017.

You may recognize the name as a pun on Documenta, a keystone contemporary art survey presented every five years out of Kassel, Germany. Running alongside the 14th edition of its namesake, dOGUMENTA brings the “energizing, exciting and unexpected” experience of Documenta to New York City, offering local canines something new to chew on.

dOGUMENTA “is the first [exhibition] in America to ask artists to address the canine community’s concerns, interests and worldview, and to make artwork catering to a four-legged sensibility,” the exhibition’s press release explains, “featur[ing] original artworks intended to intrigue and engage our furry friends…” And yes, it’s also co-curated by a dog.

© Jason Falchook.
© Jason Falchook.

It all started when art critic Jessica Dawson moved to New York, confronted with navigating Manhattan’s numerous galleries and colossal art fairs. Enter Rocky, a Maltese-Yorkshire terrier mix in need of a loving home, and the perfect pint-sized gallery-hopping buddy. Dawson adopted Rocky from a shelter in SoHo, and together, the two have reinvented the tradition of loyal companionship.

The art-loving duo can be seen regularly strolling in and out of exhibition spaces, cultivating their shared appreciation for all Manhattan’s gallery district has to offer. “It was clear that Rocky saw art differently than humans, ignoring New York Times reviews and artist resumes and engaging directly with the work,” Dawson says, and she discovered that “Rocky could sniff out some of the best artwork in New York.” With an affinity for portraiture, sculpture, and video art, Dawson suspects that Rocky enjoys the work of Nick Cave, Piero Golia, Christian Marclay and Isaac Julien, not to mention depictions of fellow pups.

© Jason Falchook.
© Jason Falchook.

Rocky’s natural penchant for identifying artistic talent granted him the enviable position of dOGUMENTA co-curator, and under his guise, 10 new artworks by Noah Scalin, Eleanna Anagnos, Graham Caldwell, Kathryn Cornelius, Merav Ezer, Margarita Korol, Dana Sherwood, Tibi Tibi Neuspiel, Eric Hibit, and Paul Vinet have been commissioned for the August exhibition. Consistent with each artist’s established aesthetic, these artworks are mindful of a dog’s sensory world with enticing scents and sounds.

“All of the artists are excited to frame ideas from their existing practice; some make work about color and form, some make work about social issues, some explore architecture and space—for a four-legged audience,” Dawson tells Culture Trip. “The artists are keeping in mind dogs’ different point of view and perception; there will be work that is about emotional issues dogs face—anxiety, which is common—as well as work that speaks to dogs’ interest in certain color schemes—they can see blue, yellow and grey. Works exploring formal, conceptual and relational issues will be executed in a variety of media, from sound and sculpture to kibble and squeaky toys.”

© Jason Falchook.
© Jason Falchook.

“We look forward to learning from the show,” Dawson says. “Will hounds react differently than terriers? Daschunds versus Dobermans? Each artwork addresses four-legged viewers differently so the whole show is an experiment for the curators and the artists.”

Presented by Art Brookfield, dOGUMENTA will run at Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey Street,
New York, NY 10281 from August 11 to 13, 2017 from 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm “to be respectful of the heat sensitivities of our four-legged friends.”