This was so unbelievable that when I first heard of it I first had to check to make sure it wasn't another urban myth. Sadly, it is not.
A Costa Rican "artist"named Guillermo Habacuc Vargas used a starved dog (that he paid some kids to bring to him) as a work of art and allowed the dog to die tied up in a corner of the gallery as part of the “exhibition.” He was chosen to represent Costa Rica in the Bienal Centroamericana Honduras 2008. A petition (in Spanish) has been created to voice support of a boycott of him receiving this honor.
While all of the photos are shocking, the most shocking to me is the one of the gallery-goers schmoozing and sipping drinks a few feet away from the dog. Did the "artist" also prohibit people from offering the dog a small bit of comfort while it lay suffering and dying as he prohibited anyone from offering food and water? Not that the people seen in the photo looked to be particularly interested in or concerned about the dog.
This makes the mind numb and the heart heavy. It's startling that no one tried to rescue or steal this poor dog from the gallery. There are animal rights activists in Central America just as there are everywhere.
While all forms of animal cruelty and neglect are painful to see or hear about, cruelty in the name of art is incomprehensible.
The artist was trying to make a point about the starving street dogs of Central America, but if he had any real imagination - perhaps imagination fueled by compassion - he would have found another way to make his point by expressing himself in a more creative and less cruel way than using a starving street dog in a twisted form of performance art.