Friday, November 23, 2012


A tremendous group of artists recently gathered at Ludlow 38. The artists Jean-Baptiste Decavèle, Nico Dockx, Helena Sidiropoulos, the architect Yona Friedman, the musician Krist Torfs, and invited guests, including the graphic designers Camille Henrot, Molly Nesbit, Vanessa Place, Rirkrit Tiravanija, gave life to this effective collaboration. This group of works of great diversity converged at a point of real interest. The transhuman and complex nature of the social man is represented through an extension of the artists themselves, socializing and inhabiting isolated places, this time by animating bodies of stray dogs.

When viewers enter the gallery, they may feel attracted to the final dark space wherein dwells ‘Demonstration #1’, the video projection of the collaboration of these artists. It is a black and white video, almost naïve, which reflects how simple and basic is our existence as human beings, where in a specific plane there is no distinction between men and dogs.  As the camera moves through an abandoned railroad in Bangkok, very thick lines drawing an animation by Jean-Baptiste Decavèle appear, which shares a common aesthetic in relation to the sketches of Yona Friedman in his utopian proposals for the city of Paris. The main video piece shows a pack of dogs, a group, a collective body, and likewise a human group, they establish a social parallel structure. These drawings in their ambiguous composition might be characters or typographies from the eastern world. As they are fast and basic drawings that recall Pollock’s dripping paintings, they acquire life and generate dialogues between them, generate constructions, and hence they generate communication. The fast morphing process of characters to dogs takes the viewer to contemplate how these dogs walk, some of them on two legs while others carry protest posters. The video is hypnotizing and penetrates deep into one’s memory; it feels familiar and connects with the most primitives and inner properties of the human kind.

An experience of traveling has been taking place in the MINI/Goethe-Institute Curatorial Residencies - since 2011 at Ludlow 38 - with its different cultural cooperation and international projects. This Project followed the same spirit; the meetings of this group of artists were instances of generous dialogues between participants who flipped the process towards a common experience. The artists themselves were protagonists of this project; they talked and listened to each other.  They understood the system of signs, where the topics of language and meaning are explored, and, in particular, how language organizes society, and who actually formulates social rules and laws. This is shown in the second less interesting space - the reception of the gallery – which contained a series of photographs and videos of the meetings, in which Yona Friedman, Jean-Baptiste Decavele and Nico Dockx held talks.

As for 'A Dog Republic', our more evolved nature and simultaneously more primitive features are reflected in the example of stray dogs. “Let’s Talk Peace!” - the subtitle for this event - refers to generating a system based on the idea of freedom. This project refers to a possible sustainable identity, where languages face needs and crisis in local communities around the world. Is not a matter of barking or talking. They conceive a relationship that is an altar and refuge: a relation that is founded in communication. The success of this project is in the translation and comparison of men with dogs. Just as simple as it sounds, our essence as social beings.


  1. This review is very interesting and does a good job of highlighting the ideas behind the artwork. I think it was a good choice to describe the dark film room first, since it really was what we chose to see first, though in your third paragraph you describe the reception of the gallery as the "second less interesting space." This makes it sound like there were two uninteresting places. Try putting a comma after the word "second," and maybe a word like less "dynamic" or "engaging" would help convey the feeling of the space better.

    I think the last two sentences of the piece would have more punch if they were combined into one sentence.

  2. This particular show could have been quite difficult to describe to a viewer who hadn't been in the actual space but you do manage to give the reader an accurate visual image. What I think you could explain further is the reasoning behind the use of the dogs and how the artists' use of the animals stemmed from each of their personal connection with their pets, therefore allowing the symbols of the canines to almost speak for them. Your concluding paragraph contains great insights but I would be interested in hearing you delve a little deeper into the message of the piece as it relates to communication and relationships.