|[Reading the brochure of the exhibition. Photo courtesy of the author]|
There has always been the persisting dilemma regarding to what extent humans should respect animal rights. The concept of pets and whether they should be regarded as of equal societal status to humans is another long-standing area of controversy that sparks debates among different people groups. There is no doubt that domestic pets are now an integral part of human society. Many of them are now brought in as a family. Humans have even brought their pets, or “family members,” from their backyard to inside their comforting warm homes. But have they truly joined our families?
Even though our society has now accepted the fact that our pets are family, there are still noticeable boundaries between humans and animals. To understand this topic through differing perspectives, I visited the exhibition “Museum for all, Museum for dogs” this weekend. The exhibition was created for dogs: members of our society who are considered family but not yet welcomed in public spaces.
|[One of the interactive exhibits. Photo courtesy of the author]|
This exhibition, which aimed to redefine the definition of pets and companions, served as a test or experiment to determine whether our animal companions would truly be accepted as a part of our human society, and if public spaces would be able to accommodate them without conflicts. It was held in the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul from 9/4 to 10/25. As someone who has never experienced something of this nature, I was truly surprised and intrigued to see dogs inside an exhibition. From the outside, I could not differentiate this exhibit from the other ones. However, as soon as I entered the doors, I was able to see many dogs and their owners enjoying the different parts of the exhibition.
Initially, I thought that the exhibit would be nothing more than an indoor playground for dogs. However, after viewing all of the displays, I was genuinely impressed with the presentations. Videos were being played on monitors, along with different physical displays, all of which were altered for the convenience of the dogs. All of the monitors were placed at a lowered height and many cushions were placed near them, making the visit much more enjoyable for the dogs.
|[Videos contrasting the perspective of dogs (left) and humans (right).
Photo Courtesy of the author]
Out of all of the different displays, ranging from the statute of three dogs made of dog food to the forest-themed playground, I found two displays to be the most significant and meaningful. In the middle of the exhibit room, there were two videos: one contrasting the perspective of dogs to humans and another film meant to raise awareness about the damaging relationship of human desire on pets.
|[Paper bag for dog feces which included a paper spoon. Photo Courtesy of the author]|
As the emphasis of this exhibition was intended to be placed on dogs, I felt that showing each party's contrasting perspectives was an excellent idea. Traditionally, the issue of dogs not being able to fit into our society was a problem only from the perspective of humans. Thus, this video allowed me to take an unusual approach by forcing me to reconsider this issue from a dogs’ perspective. This video also reminded me of dogs' essential tasks that are irreplaceable by humans, such as those of guide dogs. Another display was a short satirical film that criticized the harmful impact of human desire, and how an insistent demand for cuter pets have led to immoral genetic modifications. The film made the audience reflect on their imprudent actions and reinforced a need to change their selfish actions. By showing severely modified pets like dogs without arms, the shock truly made me ponder on this forgotten issue.
This experience was more than a typical visit to an exhibition. As a person without any experience with pets, I did not have high expectations for this exhibit. However, I was genuinely impressed with the profound emotional impact this exhibit had on me. And from my experience, I believe that well-behaving dogs have demonstrated their ability to merge into human society. I hope that one day dogs will be able to join us on our nights out.
Junior (Grade 11)
Seoul Foreign School
Hanseung Cho firstname.lastname@example.org
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