United Nations Goes to the Wiener Dogs

Ah, to be in Melbourne right now. The work of art you see above, of the United Nations composed entirely of Dachshunds, is not still...

Maria Goodavage  |  May 25th 2010


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Ah, to be in Melbourne right now. The work of art you see above, of the United Nations composed entirely of Dachshunds, is not still life. Far from it! It moves. It wiggles. It wags. It sleeps. It probably even poops. it is living art, courtesy of artist Bennet Miller. I’ll let ABC News – Australia tell the story.

Almost 50 dachshund dogs are taking centre stage in an unconventional take on the United Nations (UN) as part of this year’s Next Wave Arts festival in Melbourne.

Bennet Miller’s sculpture and animal performance piece involves 47 sausage dogs conducting an hour-long meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

In a chaotic affair, the members of the dachshund UN bark, sniff and sleep their way through the meeting, which Mr Miller says attempts to reflect both the chaotic and utopian elements of the United Nations.

“I think the UN does a lot of amazing things but it is an inherently difficult idea to pull off. It is hard for all these countries to give up their own sovereign interests to a broader global interest,” he said.

“I’m trying to make an accurate imitation of what I see in the UN, or more so what I see is the reputation of the UN. So I had to have elements that were positive and elements that were negative.”

He hopes people who view the work ultimately see it as a celebration of both the UN and the sausage dog.

“My sculpture is dysfunctional and that is also true of the UN but it is also quite a beautiful scene when you look at all the dogs. I hope that is what people take away from it but I can’t control it completely,” he said.

The dachshund dog was selected because Mr Miller believes their qualities reflect the human condition.r572581_3545321

“They have a lot of racial diversity within the breed which made them quite comparable to humanity,” he said.

“They are also very proud looking animals which resemble a statesman and plus they make a lot of people laugh.”

The work has been criticised as a form of animal cruelty but Miller says the performance is set up so that the dogs are protected from any harm.

While 47 dogs appear on stage, there are numerous substitute dogs behind the scenes which are switched in if a dog shows any signs of distress.

All of the dogs’ owners are also on hand, hidden below the installation, to make sure their pets are happy to continue in the performance.

Mr Miller says the work attempts to provoke people to consider animal rights.

“There was an animal rights issue in making the work. That was part of what I found interesting and one of things you can take from the work if you examine it more closely,” he said.

“What I mean is the participants don’t have rights about their decision to be involved in the sculptures. It’s contingent upon the owners.”

The final meeting of the dog UN is on this Saturday afternoon at the Melbourne Museum from 2:00 pm (local time).