Artist Makes a Case for His Pet Dog’s Conceptual Work

Roxy Hess, The Big Bow Wow (2011). Photo: F. Scott Hess.
Roxy Hess, The Big Bow Wow (2011). Photo: F. Scott Hess.

In a Huffington Post editorial, artist F. Scott Hess makes a compelling case for his pet dog Roxy’s “artwork” that will either amuse or horrify you, depending on how cynical you are about the state of contemporary art.

To wit: Hess photographs a pee stain that bears more than a passing resemblance to Roxy, dubbing the unintentional self portrait Piss Dog, and describing it as “reminiscent of the delicate wash drawings of Josef Beuys, and so much more organic than Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ.”

When Roxy tears up a stuffed animal, it becomes a Mike Kelly tribute. A chewed dog toy becomes a “reworked found object,” and bones and sticks become pointed commentaries about human society. Consider Egg Carton: when Roxy roots through the recycling bin, going to town on the cardboard packaging, Hess can imagine the overwrought artist’s statement that might accompany such a piece if it appeared in a gallery.

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 not-so-subtle jab at conceptual and performance based art continues, with Hess admitting “it is getting to the point where I can’t tell her art acts from life acts. . . . is it art simply because my dog intends it as art?”

The article concludes with a heartfelt plea to grant Roxy, a “ground-breaking, bone-crushing feminist artist” of the Bow-Wow Haus school, with a Masters of Fine Art degree, and a link to the dog’s Facebook account, natch.

At least Hess can’t try to claim copyright (see “No, Monkey Selfies Cannot Be Copyrighted“).


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