The New York Guggenheim Museum pulled three exhibits from display after receiving explicit threats of violence over the depiction of the “cruel manipulation of animals,” museum officials announced in a statement Monday.
The Guggenheim removed the artwork from its “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” exhibit after a petition circulated online, garnering more than 630,000 signatures and decrying the alleged animal cruelty promoted in the pieces.
The first piece in question, “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” was a video that featured pitbull dogs running towards each other on treadmills but never quite meeting.
“Such treadmills are typical of brutal dog fighting training regimens, and the mere positioning of animals to face each other and encourage aggression often meets the definition of illegal dog fighting in most states,” the American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals said in a statement, according to the BBC.
The other two contested works, “Theater of the World” and “A Case Study of Transference,” showcased insects and reptiles eating each other and a live performance of a pig’s mating ritual.
“Although these works have been exhibited in museums in Asia, Europe, and the United States, the Guggenheim regrets that explicit and repeated threats of violence have made our decision necessary,” the museum said in a press release. “As an arts institution committed to presenting a multiplicity of voices, we are dismayed that we must withhold works of art. Freedom of expression has always been and will remain a paramount value of the Guggenheim.”
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