Besotted dog owners go to great lengths for their four-legged friends. They put them up in luxury hotels, build them nifty contraptions, and send their chubby pups to weight loss camps. But Jessica Dawson may have reached new heights of dog devotion. The New York-based art critic is getting ready to launch dOGUMENTA, an upcoming contemporary art exhibition…for dogs.
As Stephanie Eckardt points out in W magazine, the show is not about dogs, or even by dogs. It’s for them. dOGUMENTA, presented by Arts Brookfield, will open for a short run August 11 to 13 at an outdoor art festival in New York. The show features works by human artists like Merav Ezer and Eric Hibit, but all artworks “take into account canine experience and perception,” according to a press release. “Four-legged exhibition-goers will encounter work in a range of media that address formal, conceptual and experiential elements such as color, sound, scent and touch.”
The show will be open during the deliberately-selected hours of 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM, so the doggies do not overheat in sweltering New York summers.
Dawson’s mission to tap into canines’ more erudite sensibilities was inspired by Rocky, her Maltese-Yorkshire (or “Morkie”) pup. Dawson often brings Rocky with her on tours of New York art galleries and it soon became “clear that Rocky saw art differently than humans, ignoring New York Times reviews and artist resumes and engaging directly with the work,” according to the press release. “Dawson realized that Rocky had something to teach human art lovers, and that he and his friends deserved an exhibition of art all their own.”
Rocky, naturally, is listed as one of dOGUMENTA’s curators.
The show borrows its name from Documenta, a prestigious contemporary art exhibition in Germany. So yes, the whole thing is a little bit silly, a little bit tongue-in-cheek. But Dawson is pretty serious about taking cues from Rocky when it comes to finding uncomplicated joy in art. She has written about the subject, and even delivered a lecture titled “Five Things A Dog Can Teach You About Art.”