Dog days: The UN assembly of dogs

Artist Bennett Millar has created an art installation which recreates the UN - with dachshunds as the representatives.

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The Independent Culture

Australian artist Bennett Millar, 31, has recreated the United Nations Assembly and populated it with dachshunds. In the 19th century, C.M. Coolidge painted dogs playing poker, so, naturally, the next step for these civilised animals is politics.

We spoke to the artist to find out more about his canine convention.

Q. Your installation, 'UN Convention of Dachshunds', has been on display for a week. What has the reaction been like?

A. We had one show on Saturday and had quite a big crowd. It was a really fun way to start the festival.

Q. Is this your first time in the UK?

A. I came in December to recruit the dogs and now I'm back to do it.

Q. Where did you find the dogs?

A. Mostly, all of the dogs are from the UK, [in the] Midlands and found across dog shows. We put out some ads and made contact with people who owned dachshunds. They come and take part with their dog. The owners are underneath [the installation] keeping their dogs safe. We had about 65 dogs.

Q. What was your motivation behind this?

A. It was originally for a festival in Melbourne. The theme of the festival was about risk-taking. I used the idea of the United Nations as an organisation that has a high risk of failing, because most other organisations have a shared interest.

And why did you pick dachshunds?

A. Most dogs have a kind of racial variety within the breed, but the dachshunds have about five different types. It definitely made it more interesting. I hope that when people look at them [the dogs] they think about themselves and humanity. It's quite fun.

It was interesting doing it here. Mostly [the dogs] were surprisingly calm, pulling those little dignified faces.

Q. The assembly of dogs is specifically of the current UN Human Rights Council. Were you making a statement about human rights with this work?

A. I like to find different ways to make people think about it [human rights], I don't want to preach, but I do want to make something that entertains. I don't want to start banging on about human rights. I'm Australia and we've got a pretty chequered history as well.

The installation is showing at Ikon gallery, Birmingham, as part of Fierce Festival, which runs until April 6.