Interviewed by Marc H. Miller’s Punk Art Catalogue, artist Tom Otterness is asked to describe his art piece “Shot Dog Film”. Otterness’s film features him shooting and killing his own dog shown repeatedly in a continuous half hour loop.
Otterness says, “It's about fucking someone... getting fucked by someone…Running over someone; defeating someone; being defeated.”
You said earlier that when you showed the film at the screening room at 42nd Street that you wanted to hurt the viewers.
“Yeah, I mean that whole night on 42nd Street, as best as I could do it, was the most aggressive way I could think of to show a film, the most damaging thing that I could do to the audience by showing a film. I hired a photographer with a camera so when people were leaving the theater, they were assaulted by a flash, attacked.”
Why do you want to assault the audience?
“It’s Soho, you know. People sleep a lot. They are not often awake.”
When asked by the New York Observer why he killed his dog for the sake of video art, Otterness responded.
“What the fuck do I do with this?” He grew visibly upset. “Certainly the scene it was part of…it was in the context of the times and the scene I was in. It is something I’ve grown to understand that nothing really excuses that kind of action.”
The cruel act of “Shot Dog Film” displays the moral turpitude of Tom Otterness, the artist of questionable character that the Memorial Art Gallery’s board of directors has chosen over 50 other artist to create a million dollar public art sculpture for their new Centennial Sculpture Park on museum grounds.
Otterness has been commissioned to create his design proposal of two 13' limestone figures (reminiscent of Lego toys) that the MAG has somehow deemed “heroic”. The sculpture will be permanently planted in a place of honor at the entrance of the park on a busy street corner, imposing itself on the community that created the original grassroots movement of Rochester ARTWalk and Neighborhood of the Arts in recent years.
Otterness’s artwork will commemorate the 100th birthday of MAG, the respected University of Rochester art museum, in October 2013, despite public outcry locally and worldwide fueled by the artist's reputation of animal cruelty. The park is funded by public and private funds as well as ARTWalk 2 money. ARTWalk 2
A number of neighborhood stakeholder workshops were held in 2009 organized by ARTWalk Extension Project to consult with the community about how to best distribute grant funds in the designated arts district. Citizens and business owners were guided to come up with ideas for the kind of public art they envisioned for the neighborhood. The stakeholders were told that MAG already had a million dollars in funds for the museum's grounds, but were encouraged to contribute more grant money towards MAG.
MAG employees and board members were included as active participants in these community stakeholder meetings. Some of the MAG board members have been employed by ARTWalk creating a conflict of interest.
The Tom Otterness sculpture was never mentioned or proposed to neighborhood stakeholders to be considered or voted on though MAG was courting Otterness two years earlier and was well aware of his infamous film. After the stakeholder workshops were over, MAG announced their decision to commission Tom Otterness as an integral part of ARTWalk. The artist's reputation of animal crulty was eventually discovered by the community.
The Memorial Art Gallery has ignored the public's objections to the Otterness project and have lost many of their own members over the controversy. They have staunchly justified their right to choose whoever they want at the expense of the inhabitants of the community they so hypocritically pretend to care about. They've played a sneaky, dirty trick on the citizens of Rochester and the Neighborhood of the Arts.
This is not a one time art exhibit. This is a permanent outdoor installation that Rochesterians have to live with for years to come and the controversy will never go away. Tom Otterness is the symbol of an animal abuser. That will never change. By choosing Otterness the Memorial Art Gallery has not made an ethical decision for the citizens of Rochester. People of Rochester have values and MAG's choice does not reflect those values. MAG has divided the community and gone against the University of Rochester's motto, Meliora.