In Taiwan, your spare change isn’t stored in piggy banks. It’s guarded by German shepherd-shaped money boxes. Visual artist Wu Chuan-Lun has been collecting these ceramic canine keepers of coins since 2012. Now, they’re the stars of his solo exhibition, No Country for Canine, recently on view at Taipei Fine Art Museum. This pack of porcelain hounds stands proudly on display, complemented by archival documents, found German Shepherd figurines from Europe, photography, pencil sketches, video art, porcelain sculptures and brass installations.
Just like our living, breathing four-legged friends, Chuan-Lun’s porcelain pooches each have their own distinct differences. Sure, they’re all German shepherds holding almost exactly the same pose, however some are black, some are tan, and some are brown. They have fancy jewelled collars or red gemstone eyes; some are big and shaggy, others small and sleek.
The richly metaphorical No Country for Canine digs deeper, drawing a link between dog breeding and ceramic production. Seriously. It argues that, at the turn of the 19th century, after the Industrial Revolution, dogs were bred more for looks than labour. At the same time, mass pottery production was meeting the demands of ceramics for ordinary use, changing the perception of decorative pottery as luxury objects to that of everyday household items. Kitschy dog-shaped ceramic decorations, mass-produced through moulding, seemingly aren’t that far-removed from the logic behind the in-breeding of pedigree dogs to meet set standards. Both share that relentless pursuit of perfection, right?
All images courtesy of Wu Chuan-Lun and Taipei Fine Art Museum
A heartfelt thank you to all the photographers, artists, illustrators, and writers who trusted us, dived in, and brought us delight, grace, excitement, courage, wilderness, and wonder over the last five years. Their work not only reflects the bonds we share with our animal companions, it also celebrates their spirit.
None of this would be possible without our four-legged counterparts who sprinkle magic dust time and time again, and our readers, who embraced this kooky idea, rallied around us, and made this world theirs too. With friends like these, who needs nine lives?
February 5, 2019
He may not have a statue in Central Park devoted to him like Balto does, but Togo was the unsung hero husky of the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska. Togo, a film starring Willem Dafoe, is here to tell his story. While Balto and his team ran the final leg of the run transporting diphtheria antitoxin to Nome, Togo led his team through the longest and most hazardous leg of the journey, covering 264 miles (Balto ran 55). He navigated his fellow sled dogs and their musher Leonhard Seppala (played by Dafoe) through white-out storms, over a mountain and across the perilous exposed ice of Norton Sound. You can watch Togo on Disney+.
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April 7, 2020