Updated 2:35 am / 29 June 2015
Alright Tuesday’s Horse’ers, instead of me popping off we invite you to weigh in. Tell us, from your experience — no matter what that is — how you view this scenario.
Is it a good thing or a bad thing for live horses to be part of an indoor art installation? And we mean not generally speaking, but in this particular instance?
No matter what the circumstances horses find themselves in thanks to humans, there always appears to be others that are better or worse.
I am going to keep my mouth shut, for better or worse. For the moment anyway. —Editor
Yesterday we were alerted to an art exhibit which is comprised of live horses tethered to a wall in a Manhattan gallery. Is it art or animal cruelty? Below, critics and activists weigh in on the 3-day installation—called Untitled (12 Horses)—currently on display at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in Greenwich Village.
Donny Moss (of Their Turn) told us the horses appear to be tethered there for 6 hours a day. Upon visiting last night before the exhibit closed for the day, Moss says Gavin Brown approached him, suspecting he was an animal rights activist (which Moss says the gallery has seen a lot of in the day since the 3-day show opened).
He suspected that I was an activist, and he wanted to engage with me. We had a long talk. He sees nothing wrong with tying horses to a wall for 6 hours, and he said they are better off in his air conditioned gallery than out in the hot sun. He was comfortable debating with me when I argued that live animals are not objects of art to put on display and that future generations will look at the photos of his live animal exhibit and ask, “What were they thinking?”
He was, however, stumped when I pointed out the horses can’t lie down, turn around or scratch an itch because of how tightly they’re tethered. He only response was that horses sleep standing up. I explained that they can catch a cat nap standing up but that they get their REM sleep when lying down.
Moss’s point about not being able to lie down is perhaps the biggest one to make here—even the controversial stables of carriage horses in the city have stalls padded with hay for each horse. However, they are tended to.
Art critic Jerry Saltz praised the “iconic” exhibit, noting that “the horses are handsome, not the draught horses used in the original, which was staged in 1969 in an underground Italian garage with a hard tiled floor. Nor are they the broken animals we were used to seeing about Central Park. Poised, quiet, calm, they stand at three of the gallery’s four walls, eating hay from buckets attached to the wall, neighing occasionally, rustling, relieving themselves. They are attended to at all times by three loving grooms. The room has a reverence, not for a work of art but for life, and the ways it can embed itself in things we call art.” Continue reading »
The New York Times reports that the exhibit is moving soon, stating:
“Harlem may be far from the madding crowd of galleries in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. But this summer Gavin Brown is closing shop on Greenwich Street in the West Village and moving his gallery to a former brewery at 461 West 126th Street.”
As advocates and horse lovers we know there are far worse things happening to horses daily everywhere. But is this a good or bad thing for these horses? Say your peace.