Sniffing the Past is delighted to feature a guest blog by artist David Joseph-Goteiner for the second installment of Art and Dog Mess
I avoid talking with strangers, and even some friends, about my current project. I can anticipate their reactions – “ew” or “get away from me.” You’re a stranger, but this blog feels like the right place to say more.
My current project is dog shit. I’m thinking about it, photographing it, stepping in it, picking it up, and – you know – playing around with it. It’s all part of my work as an artist.
To date, I’ve made hundreds of pieces of artwork with dog shit. There were the 250 or so in-situ paintings I made during an eight hour walk in Paris; the sidewalk was my canvas and the dog shits left by Parisians were my paints. The video below allows you to relive some of that day:
Then there was the afternoon that I wandered around Paris, photographing dog shit, picking it up (with a stylish pink glove) and putting it into a CHANEL shopping bag. I picked up 113 pieces of poop in total and created a map with each poop’s location using geo-tagged information from my photographs. I also created an Instagram dedicated to the poops of Paris. Finally, I redistributed my new stockpile of dog shit: making sculptures that skirted the edges of legality. I probably can claim the title for “most art made using dog shit.”
Though I’m not especially talkative about my dog shit art, I’m glad to be expressing my ideas freely. I’m glad to be even a little bit outside of the established art world, with its art schools, huge stretched canvases, and clean sensibilities. That said, I do draw, paint, and sculpt as well. With my dog shit, though, I’m exploring a different side of artistic thought and practice.
I’m using dog shit to look at contemporary society. Dog ownership is rising rapidly today, and so is amount of dog shit. Dog shit is the byproduct of a uniquely modern trend; therefore it’s a tangible way to explore our way of being right now. For example, I see the connection between dog ownership and mass consumerism; I look at one piece of dog shit left on the sidewalk and wonder about the whole chain of money and market behaviors that got it to there.
Dogs and their shit are also a way to look at human history. Ideas in philosophy, psychology and politics fly around dog shit like flies.
Though the art world isn’t flying in circles around dog shit, dogs have historically been a great inspiration for art. The list of artists with dogs who’ve made dog-related artworks include: David Hockney, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso. Does Hockney sketch his dachshund’s daily droppings? Did Picasso pick up his dog’s poop and bring it back to his studio to make castings of? We can only wonder.
Dogs are sketched, painted, and sculpted because they have meaning to individuals, and to our societies. So does their shit. A piece of dog shit is also a metaphor, a window, a lens, a frame into much bigger, more important questions.
Life is messy. So is dog shit. Art can help us make sense of the mess.
You can view more of David’s work at:
Feel free to email him with questions and ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org.