I first noticed that my dog, Roxy Hess, had artistic intentions when she left a forceful and unmistakable message on the floor of the studio we share. Slow human that I am, I hadn't realized that Roxy was not only on top of the latest developments in the artworld, she was running amongst the pack leaders. For years she had been manufacturing works of avant-garde genius, and I had been throwing them out with the trash.
When "Piss Dog" first appeared on that fateful day in August of 2011, I finally grasped the reality that I had been cohabiting with one of the great forces of contemporary art. Roxy's urinated drawing was reminiscent of the delicate wash drawings of Josef Beuys, and so much more organic than Andres Serrano's Piss Christ. Suddenly made aware, over the coming months I marveled at Roxy's conceptual virtuosity.
For some time Roxy was influenced by the late great Los Angeles master Mike Kelly. Unlike Kelly, however, she has never been content to simply present found objects. She feels this conceit should have died with Duchamp. It's been done. Instead, she subtlety reworks each piece, literally taking the 'stuffiness' out of Mike Kelly's premise. Aesthetically speaking, "More Love Hours Than You'll Ever Give Me," is a masterpiece. The delicate chewing away of the section above the heart is in the shape of a heart; the back paw is gnawed at the tendon, preventing any flight; and the anus, the center of every dog's attraction, has been opened up like a third eye.
"Egg Carton" speaks to the fragility of inter-species existence. Through the choice of a shredded egg container, Roxy also questions the packaging of fragility as a commodity in capitalist media, and this in turn frames her own art discourse as a non-human female conceptual artist speaking through the transitory medium of decaying and discarded 'artifacts' in a pre/post-technological paradigm. The new Broad Museum really wanted this piece, but Roxy prefers it to be displayed across the Atlantic, feeling that Europeans are much more sophisticated in their appreciation of conceptual art. Will the Pompidou doo it?
In this bone piece, Roxy approaches the issue of ritualistic sequence patterning from the lowly vantage point of a disinterested canine observer of human communication modes. In teaching her bipedal critics to count to four, she actually utilizes ten bones, inverting the viewer's perceived basis of knowledge and calling into question the validity of numeric systems for ordering the universe. Roxy suggests that a bone, is a bone, is a bone. Her 'framing bones' in position four reflect the rectangle, a symbolic form for the constructions of man, and to representations of art inherent in them. For Roxy, the aesthetic tastes of man are as useless as numbering systems, and food for thought pales in comparison to thoughts of food. Chewing over these concepts, this autochthonous artist extracts the marrow of content from the bones of structure, peeling back the skin of human ideology, and exposing the raw musculature of true experience.
Responding to critics who've called her just another big-jawed blond bitch, Roxy dove into an impressive outdoor feminist work called "The Big Bow-Wow." Clearly it revolves around issues of female orgasm. While in progress Roxy abandoned Bow-Wow for several days, and I pushed it aside assuming she was finished. My mistake! The next day she'd pulled it out and was back at work. Men just never know.
"Pointed Stick" ridicules the human penchant for elevation of its own species above all others. Clearly mocking the belief that only humans make tools, Roxy 'points out' the fallacy of such a limited concept by effortlessly creating a multi-purpose instrument, and then leaving it at her human 'masters' feet. Through this piece she seems to be saying, "Yes, you humans make and use tools, but you serve us." In effect, "Pointed Stick" points to her point: We dogs make 'tools' of all you humans.
Recovering from a long creative abstinence, Roxy tried her hand at art video in 2013. After viewing films by Andy Warhol and Bill Viola, she realized that the purpose of art video to date had been to put the audience into a deep slumber. Rejecting that typical approach, Roxy produced "Bark," a tour-de-force of the genre through which no one could possibly sleep, and at 49 seconds it represents an art video record for concision.
Roxy's art continues to flummox me. Yesterday she came into the bedroom as I was clipping my toenails. She ate the little pile of them I'd left on the floor. It is getting to the point where I can't tell her art acts from life acts. Obviously, she understands that art is at a point where it can no longer parody itself. I'm wracked by one question, however... is it art simply because my dog intends it as art? Is she purposely disturbing me with avant-garde theater, or does she consider this act so subtle that only a bourgeois philistine would fail to understand its insignificance? Is she just hungry?
Progressing further in the artworld is a huge challenge for any dog. Anti-canine prejudice prevents her attending the best MFA programs, though if she wrote a thesis I'm sure her jargon would be just as understandable as that published in most universities. I call upon Huffington Post readers to petition your local concept-oriented art departments. This ground-breaking, bone-crushing blond feminist artist needs your help! Roxy Hess deserves an honorary MFA.
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