Gowanus Artist Asks Forgiveness For Shooting Dog

05/05/2011 1:23 PM |

THE BANALTY OF EVIL: pushing the boundaries of aesthetics, one CBGBs tee at a time
  • THE BANALTY OF EVIL: pushing the boundaries of aesthetics, one CBGBs tee at a time

In 1977, artist Tom Otterness, now based in Gowanus and best known for his work at the 14th Street and Eighth Avenue station, made a movie called “Shot Dog Film” in which he shot a shelter dog he’d adopted. A commenter who saw it at the time described the experience at Fucked in Park Slope:

The video was not just him shooting a dog. It was him getting the dog, caring for the dog, being with the dog over a period of time, it was not a single day film, he was with the dog for quite a while.

I would never have willingly agreed to watch such a film, but none of us actually knew how it would end. When he shot the dog, the audience was taken aback (we hoped it was faked). We had been duped, victimized, and he got all the publicity that he had hoped for…

Otterness, whose more recent work trades on weird animal cuteness, has recently been commissioned by an anonymous patron to create bronze lion sculptures for the New York Public Library’s Battery Park branch; he is to receive a quarter of a million dollars for the work. The artist isn’t proud of what he did over three decades ago. Fucked in Park Slope quotes his apology:

Thirty years ago when I was 25 years old, I made a film in which I shot a dog. It was an indefensible act that I am deeply sorry for. Many of us have experienced profound emotional turmoil and despair. Few have made the mistake I made. I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me.

But many don’t have such forgiveness in their hearts. “His finished product was essentially a snuff film and he committed a heinous and vicious crime,” reads an on-line petition. “We recognize [his apology] as little more than lip service. His anti-social behavior makes him the worst possible candidate imaginable to create sculptures for a building that supposedly functions for the public good.”

Detractors say he should, at the very least, dedicate his commission to animal shelters around the city—to put his money where his mouth is, as it were.

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6 Comment

  • I’m very mad at the person he was 30 years ago, but since I do believe that people change, I can’t be mad at today’s Tom Otterness. I accept his apology. And he better not do it again.

  • How is this a public commission for the Library when the Library says it is NOT for them in their press release and they will use no funds to support it? And how is this public when its being forced on the public with no other choices of artist offered and funded by a private person? Besides being a dog killer not representing the population who would use the Library that owns/rescues animals, what exactly IS this commission? He can’t keep saying its for the library. So Otterness and his rich buddies want to plop something on the sidewalk near the library and try to get the credit for having done something FOR the Library? Not with the Library’s or the public’s support, in a public place at the Library.. lol what kind of scam is he and this person running anyway? What sort of tax break do you get for a forced 700k “donation”?

  • the killing of the dog was pre-meditated he had lots of time to think about it i dont think that anyone who even thinks about killing something as got some sort of mental problem ! i wonder if i killed him would i be forgiven ! ! I DONT THINK SO !

  • His apology is empty and hollow and a con job. It’s entirely self serving. If you don’t have empathy or a conscience at 25, you won’t have it 30 years later either.

  • “I did shoot a dog once, okay? But it was 30 goddamn years ago!!!”

  • The description of the film by Fucked in Park Slope is totally made up. I saw the film the one and only time it was actually screened and it was short and to the point. Does that make it better? No. But reputable news outlets shouldn’t be publishing made up dribble trying to emotionally milk an incident that took place 33 years ago. How many dogs are killed everyday at animal shelters paid for with tax money? Do you want to talk about abortion? Enough already. Otterness has long proved himself to be a good artist with an upbeat popular touch.