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A sure sign the art world is going to the dogs

chew bone April 30, 1997
Web posted at: 9:31 p.m. EDT (0131 GMT)

From Correspondent Jeanne Moos

NEW YORK (CNN) -- When Russian artist Oleg Kulik hears that his performance was for the dogs, he's flattered.

That's because his two-week performance that ended recently in New York was AS a dog.

And though some critics may have had a bone to pick with the show, Kulik through it reinforced his reputation as one of the most prominent figures in the Russian art world.

So what if he doesn't speak English. In his role as dog man, he doesn't speak at all.

For two weeks, Kulik's performance art exhibit, "I bite America and America bites me," was seen at New York's Deitch Gallery.


It may not look like art, but Kulik's tail-wagging performance was reviewed by the New York Times, which is a lot more than other more conventional artists can claim.

"To watch a human impersonate a dog as thoroughly as Mr. Kulik is extremely disconcerting," the Times' reviewer said.

Inside his cage, dog man exhibits a range of behavior, from playful to soulful. His careful study of a dog's natural movement is said to prompt viewers to suspend belief that what's before them is actually a man and not a beast.

Dog man for the most part was more bark than bite, although he was not restrained by a leash and he was known to leave bite marks. Spectators were encouraged to enter his cage, but they had to don a protective suit.

Gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch calls dog man a landmark in the history of radical performance art. He said it's a powerful image meant to provoke thoughts about what separates man from dog.

For two weeks, Kulik never left his cage or his canine character. He was taken nude in a minivan to the airport, and finally donned clothes before boarding a flight to Moscow.

The idea is to someday profit from the sale of documentary footage -- and even the cage bars and door -- as relics.


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