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America's First Art Exhibit for Dogs

As recently reported in Untapped Cities - Have you ever seen art at dog-level? News of dOGUMENTA, the free art exhibit for dogs (and their humans), has had tails wagging since May and now everyone’s in for a treat. Recently held from August 11-13th, Arts Brookfield hosted America’s first art exhibit for dogs at the Brookfield Place Waterfront Plaza, featuring canine-minded work by ten artists. The exhibit was open at prime dog-walk time, from 8:00am – 1:00pm and 4:00pm – 8:00pm, to accommodate the heat sensitivity of New York City’s newest culture hounds.

Curator Jessica Dawson , a longtime art critic for publications like the Washington Post, Village Voice and Art in America, came up with the concept over the course of her gallery visits with Rocky, a rescue Morkie dog. Dawson noticed that Rocky was as much critic as critter: a Daniel Flavin enthusiast, a fearless explorer, and focussed observer (see the pair visiting Chelsea galleries here). Recognizing Rocky’s radically different perspective about the art on display, Dawson resolved to create an exhibit that would cater to dogs as viewers, inviting both canine and human species to perceive art from a dog’s eyes.

The only similar exhibit in recent history was the London-based “Play More,” sponsored by a pet insurance company and mostly designed for pet fun: think ball pits and a large fan disseminating shoe and meat smells. Named after the eminent German contemporary art exhibit dOCUMENTA, dOGUMENTA presents itself as an ambitious experiment in contemporary art for animals. Along with creative consultant Mica Scalin and Dawson herself, Rocky is billed as part of the curatorial team, “sniffing out New York City’s best art since 2013.” That organizational move is no joke: dOGUMENTA’s manifesto makes bold declarations about the revolutionary potential of seeing and making art for the pup’s perspective: “dOGUMENTA rekindles joy.” “dOGUMENTA eschews trends.” “dOGUMENTA goes with the gut.”


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