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
Have you ever imagined Amy Winehouse or Nick Cave as a Chihuahua, Neil Young as a Vizsla, or PJ Harvey as an Afghan hound? That’s exactly what San Francisco-based artist Michael Gillette has done through his unique illustration project, blending beloved, iconic music legends, both past and present, with their dog counterparts. Pack of Dogs, our first foray into book publishing, is a joyful title designed for music, pop culture and dog lovers alike.
August 25, 2020