“Italy’s checking out where the action’s at,” chuckled one voice in the crowd. “France is rather yappy,” observed another. The square outside Ikon Gallery in Birmingham was agog with obvious but irresistible gags yesterday as Australian artist Bennett Miller broke the first rule of theatre working with 47 dachshunds in a live art meets architectural installation experiment.
For Dachshund UN Miller had built a large scale model of the famous United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland. Where normally one would expect to see the great and the good of international politics battling it out for the benefit of the world community, we instead saw a kaleidoscope of West Midlands based sausage dogs. Dachshunds of every shape, size and colour fussed about behind tiny dachshund sized microphones and miniature country name plates.
The set was cleverly designed so that doting owners hovered below remaining clear of the audience’s view but very much in sight to the dogs. Clear of the audience’s view in the loosest sense - hands popped up here and there, heads even, when little Fido needed a spot of reassurance or encouragement to face the cameras rather than showing them his arse as China was wont to do. And when dogs became uncomfortable or fidgety they were moved. The notably oversized United States popped up in Pakistan at one point. In such a scenario the symbolism of the inadvertent was bountiful.