Dachshund U.N.

04 May, 2010

Dachshund UN German delegates
The German delegates.
Image: Bennett Miller
Source: Bennett Miller

Perth-based artist Bennett Miller has been camping out in a rugged West- Melbourne warehouse for six weeks constructing his Next Wave Festival installation, Dachshund U.N. He’s building a timber model of a United Nations meeting room to dachshund-scale because in Bennett’s performance piece, the 47 delegates, speakers and interpreters of the UN Human Rights Committee are represented by live sausage dogs.

For this year’s festival theme – “No risk too great’ – the dachshund is the perfect medium.  “There’s an inherent risk in the idea of the UN. What I’m doing is similar but on a smaller scale.” Bennett’s playful artworks often feature animals cast in human roles and he’s used dachshunds before, but never so many at once.

Local dachshund owners have embraced the project enthusiastically. They will participate in the three performances with their dogs, albeit concealed beneath the wooden installation that will sit on the Melbourne Museum plaza. Says Bennett, “it’s a dream spot for me to put the work to expose it to people who aren’t necessarily looking for art projects.” The backdrop of the Royal Exhibition Building – the site of Australia’s first parliament – also emphasises the contrast between officious, serious themes of politics and diplomacy and the playful absurdity of dachshunds en masse.

“They’re my favourite dogs, mainly because they make me laugh,” says Bennett, who has a dachshund called Otto waiting for him back home in Perth. “They’re restricted in their movement but they always look really proud, and I like watching how they persevere, which is good for this project as well. They also have racial diversity – long, short and wire haired, red, black and tan and dappled– so there’s the potential to have a breakdown similar to the UN.”

Exactly how the canine stars will respond to their debut in the performance art world is, as Bennett says, “a big unknown. It’s meant to go wrong a little bit, like the UN often does. But, equally, it’s important to try and make it happen.”

Dachshund U.N. is the third Next Wave Festival project that has been partnered by Melbourne Museum and is also supported by the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts, Australia Council for the Arts and the Keir Foundation. Performances will be held from 2 – 3pm on 15, 22 and 29 May 2010. The sculpture will remain on site throughout the Festival.

UPDATE: Watch the video of the performance


Comments (29)

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Emma 4 May, 2010 14:33
this is going to be AMAZING.
Danielle 4 May, 2010 20:19
I LOVE IT!!!!!!!! we have had 2 dachies and they have both owned our family, not the other way round.
John 5 May, 2010 09:21
Superbly insane. :)
Bob 5 May, 2010 15:48
If they're represented with daschunds, wouldn't all of the countries be Germany?
Andrew 5 May, 2010 15:56
Get a dog
Fergus 6 May, 2010 15:05
Irish Setters are much cuter!
Nicci 7 May, 2010 12:45
Dont forget about wire hair dachshunds! They are the cutest of all. I have photos...
Virginia 8 May, 2010 21:22
Can't wait! Our family of dachsie lovers will be there!
peter 9 May, 2010 20:26
Irish setters are stupid, and dachshunds rule the world, if not the universe...
Andre 12 May, 2010 20:42
I love it!! The most sensible idea I have yet read this year. The world will be a much better place if all UN delegates are dachshunds.
Symone & Charlotte 13 May, 2010 16:15
Wish we could bring our boys Archie & Eddie along!
Hilary 15 May, 2010 16:44
just went to see this gloriously whimsical and deeply satirical view of what the un has made of itself. the dogs performed perfectly, their interactions revealing a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the delegates we see in the media. worth seeing!
Candy 16 May, 2010 12:56
I cant wait to see this!! It's fantastic. Sadly my sausy passed away before he could have a chance to be in the exhibit :(. They are great natured dogs with amazing personalities and yes they make everyone laugh!!
Carole Gardner 17 May, 2010 10:47
I LOVED IT! We participated on Saturday 15th May and it was fantastic. A little squishy in the sculpture but so worth the effort. Dachies forever. Carole Gardner Owned by three Dachies. Whooo hooo
Carole Gardner 18 May, 2010 08:23
I forgot to mention that my dog handlers Barb who looked after Pearl and Mary who looked after Sharna were stupendous. Thank you. Once again, thank you Bennett for the opportunity it was fantastic.
Kate 20 May, 2010 17:42
That sounds so cute!! you should do this in Perth too!
sally 20 May, 2010 17:58
MORE PHOTOS PLEASE - well done, dogs and owners!
felicity P 20 May, 2010 21:23
Looks fabulous.. Irreverance often gets the message across. Great imagination. please repeat in Perth!!
Mia 21 May, 2010 00:31
Is he bringing the art to Perth? Please!
Dave Grusin 21 May, 2010 08:33
I love dogs, but this proves the UN is filled with weiners!
Ellen Waddle 23 May, 2010 14:27
Only saw 4 pictures. When will you post the complete view? All doxies . . . all the time! Go weiner dogs! Ellen and John, California
Gillie Learmonth 25 May, 2010 14:11
The best thing Peppie & I have done all year. Can we get photos or a book?
Penelope Johnson 25 May, 2010 20:42
Uncle Brett 26 May, 2010 19:24
Excellent Bennett
Lorrence 26 May, 2010 20:58
Matt 27 May, 2010 10:21
This looks great... do they need any more delegates this Saturday? Our Schnitzel von Krumm always has a lot to say!
Ed Veber 28 May, 2010 09:58
Will hot dogs and sausage rolls be availble for purchase during intermission?
Margaret 28 May, 2010 23:49
I participated last Saturday and what fun it was, my boy was one of the Wires, and he sat next to his son, needless to say he went to sleep on the job, but what a wonderful experiance to see all those Dachies up there together. Yes I too would love to see more pics of it. please!!!!!
Fiona Douglas 7 June, 2010 08:35
How utterly superb!! What a fabulously quirky concept and what better breed than the dachshund for the UN? Courageous, not afraid to speak up with a solid woof - watch out the real UN, I say. Must link this to my website, dachshundaustralia.com for more dachshund lovers to see. Congratulations to everyone involved and especially (of course) the inspired artist, Bennett Miller. Top stuff!
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