According to messages that circulate via social media, email and the blogosphere, a series of attached images depict a man in Brazil who had the muzzle, eyebrows and ears of a dog surgically – and permanently - implanted onto his face to create a bizarre dog-man hybrid. The images have generated a great deal of online debate.
However, things are not what they seem. The circulating photographs are part of a work created by Brazilian artist Rodrigo Braga in 2004. And, not at all surprisingly, the images do not actually show a real, living man with a surgically implanted dog's head.
To make the series of images used in the piece, titled Fantasia de Compensação (Compensation Fantasy), Braga created a life-like replica of his own head and made a silicon cast of a euthanized dog's face. He then had a veterinary surgeon sew the dog's ears and muzzle onto the replica of his head. The result was a bizarre and very realistic man-dog hybrid. Braga also reportedly used digital manipulation to further enhance the photographic series.
Braga created the piece some years after having a disturbing and life changing encounter with a sick dog when he was a teenager. Compensation Fantasy launched Braga on to the Brazilian art scene.
Since then, he has produced many other works, a lot of which involve animals and natural environments. Frieze reports:
In his latest series of work, shown at last year’s 30th Bienal de São Paulo (2012), Braga addresses the conflict between man and nature, human and animal. In Tônus (2012), he ties himself to a goat and attempts to run in a different direction, an action that results in them both spinning endlessly in circles. He also fights the claws of a crab with his bare hand, a duel that ends in stalemate – a metaphor for the human condition in a landscape impossible to tame.
Rodrigo Braga was condemned for his "man-dog" piece by animal rights activists with some even suggesting that he may have purposely killed the dog for use in the pictures. In fact, Braga obtained the body of the dog from a Recife, Brazil animal shelter after it had been euthanized because nobody came forward to adopt it. Braga notes that he had no influence on the decision to euthanize the animal and that he had formal written authorization of local government to use the animal's remains in his artwork.
So, regardless of your opinion of the piece's merit or value as art, you can at least rest assured that there is no weird dog-man hybrid walking the streets of Brazil. Those who still harbour some doubts can view later videos and images of the - non-dog faced - artist on the Pipa website and many other sites on the Internet.
Last updated: June 25, 2013