In 2015, at the release of the film Heart of a dog, one of the most poetic but also lucid achievements of the posthumanist period, Laurie Anderson told the story of how, just starting with small steps from her relationship with her dog, she managed to understand great ideas like time, love and death. Unexpectedly, in the spring of 2007, when the posthumanist discourse dedicated to rethinking the relationship between man and the register of life, was yet to reach everyone’s lips, Suzana Dan managed to create the same type of affective virtual world, not in film but in an in situ installation, shown on the walls of an abandoned building in Sinaia, following an ArtistNe(st) residence.
The project entitled Museum of Dog placed images of dogs loved by Suzana over time in the context of a lucid meditation on the relationship of humans in the technological age with their animals, thus being not only an avant la lettre posthumanist approach, but also an example of visual work that, similar to Anderson’s film, combined the structure and texture of dreams with the method of diving (in a philosophical meditation or a technological nightmare of progress and functionality).
Perhaps even more unexpected was the encounter between Suzana’s museum and a group of very young artists from Bucharest, who in the summer of 2019 rediscovered the house and, without knowing what it was about, launched their own investigations there. In the last half year, some of these artists filmed there, to edit and recontextualize or to deliver digital, animated versions of the drawings still visible on the walls. Some picked plaster flowers from the cold walls or retrieved the white skeleton of a dog from a canal in the backyard. Others recorded sounds – of dogs from Sinaia, of their own voices or footsteps stepping over the shards and garbage gathered in the house. To reflect the perishability of image and feelings, some even deleted pieces from the drawings on the walls (anonymous for them at the time).
At the intersection of all these chance (or not) encounters, at the intersection of aesthetics and environments – painting, photography, installation, sound, film – the DogMan project emerged. It talks about the miracle of the meeting, but also about the inevitability of separation and destruction. It proposes contemporaries to approach the earth like a dog, not only to recover the sense of smell and a grassroots perspective, but also to understand the need to leave anthropocentrism behind and give up the subsidiary pleasures and sufferings of the ego. It presents our animals as mirrors in which we can look in order to better understand love, death and even the act of thinking itself. It presents death as a release of love, the golden sadness felt when we are separated from the dogs of our childhood (and Goya’s little dog from 1820 comes to mind), when beautiful people pass away (Suzana remembers Gabriela Tudor). It tries to explain, like Anderson’s film, what it means to feel sad without being sad.
Finally, as a collaborative project in which Suzana’s painting meets the digital recontextualizations of the young orchestrators of glitch and noise, DogMan launches invitations to further explore the versatile dog museum: in its blog version (museumofdog.blogspot.com), in an exhibition addressed to the people of Iași or, why not, in the physical version of the old and imposing abandoned building of a communist restaurant. Real and virtual, physical and digital at the same time, this place of death and love, located at the intersection of the cemetery and the museum, remains a unique example of heterotopia, a different space, ordered by its own laws and boulevards, a synthesis of multiple slices of space and time.