Final Stubby

My name is Stubby.
My identity is hound dog.
My age is none of your business.
It’s enough for you to know I am not young.

I’m the emotional guardian of an adult human.
I was removed from my family as a pup.
However, I like pretending that I signed a deal, that I released an intense combo of hormones and that I struck a pose. And then, he picked me up and carried me home on his palm. In exchange for performing affection and keeping company, I get shelter and food.

I’m a domestic bound hound. My non-wild life erased my call to chase prey. But not my call to pry or investigate. Living with a human who writes on a diary everyday, my pastime became surpassing my cognitive abilities and secretly reading what he writes down.

The human I look after is obsessed with George Stubbs. He puts up cheap George Stubbs prints all over the walls of our house. The kind of print where the dark green of a forest is printed in the tone of an electric lettuce green. In 2019, he travelled to Milton Keynes to see George Stubbs’ retrospective All Done from Nature at MK Gallery.

[George Stubbs is a celebrated 18th century English painter, best known for his paintings of horses and hunting scenes and his deep interest in the study of anatomy.]

This time around, he’s traveled to Edinburgh to see an 82min video-work by Amie Siegel titled Bloodlines, exhibited at the National Galleries of Scotland. The film follows Stubbs’ paintings being transferred from their private collections to the 2019 MK Gallery retrospective and back.

Oh, and this time he brought me with him, from our undisclosed Southern Europe country to Scotland. I’ve been through a lot. Car, plane, bus, train. Trapped in small dark places for hours.

August in Edinburgh. Of course he had to see some shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.
He doesn’t take me to any performances :(

Personally, all I experience is the revolving apparatus and confusion. Flyers from hand to hand, questionable graphic design and too many jokes. Flyers left to the will of the wind. Flyers dragged along the pavement. Flyers getting stained and cut in bits. Left on the corner of an alley, falling in the gutter.

With my four dog legs, the aftermath of a rubbish strike is tangible.
I sniff monumental piles of trash and bark:
Pay rise! Pay rise!
Leave all leftovers outside as a collective canine treat.

What does he write about the Fringe shows though? Let’s see…

Gay Boys by Craig Manson at Summerhall

White shirts and white shorts making up a uniform. Boiled up clichés are cut up with precision. Moans and groans on display. Choreography of ideas that the two performers enact with a purposeful imperfection. Charli XCX as an anthem. Gay app notification sounds as a guide for movement. Passionate and deadpan. Deadpan in the face of the fear of showing: Yes, I’m actually feeling all of this. A sort of attempt to map the nature of a lubed up cage.

Patti Harrison at The Pleasance Courtyard

Absolutely nuts and genius stand-up comedy.
A daring millennial take on mental health, dating, and many taboos… along with hilarious musical impressions. I have no words, but she’s having fun and the audience has fun with her. Applause.


On the last day of the trip, I realised that if I can transform my brain and read, I can also fuck with my body and suppress my body into a doodle inside his diary. Now I am a shape on a page and I can still see.

[Amie Siegel (b.1974) is a Brooklyn-based artist who works with film, video, photography, performance and installation.]

There is not a narrating voice nor scripted lines performed, but the editing of the film is so dynamic that it embodies the voice that we don’t hear. I keep watching to make sense of what I’m given. The camera follows the labour of an art installation team in and out of these private spaces. I start sensing the different private estates in England and Scotland as a single unit. The same bucolic landscape, the palace-like architecture of the houses with the same posh interiors, same chairs, same coats, same wallpapers and “exotic” motifs… they form one stereotype of British aristocracy.

The hunting scenes of the paintings become real in the footage of an actual hunt. As the focus shifts from the paintings to the painting’s environment, the subject matter is still the same. In the footage of a flying drone, the little horse riding figures look small and insignificant from above in the big country landscape. An elite asserts and performs a tradition with all its rituals, assuring the conservation of certain bloodlines, of an elitist bubble that resists societal change. Horses are transported in vans, just like the paintings. Packs of dogs are kept in pounds inside a shed, only to be released when it’s time to chase foxes. The hunter maneuvers the hound to follow its instinct. Hierarchies are clear. But it’s on the viewer to judge what is seen.

POWER

Hunter

Horse

Hound

Fox

DEATH

My name is Stubby.
Dog eat Dog.
I don’t really see a way out.

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Rodrigo Vaiapraia is a writer, songwriter and performer. He did a BA in Art History at Nova FCSH and a Master of Letters in Art Writing at the Glasgow School of Art. He often collaborates in film and theatre projects.

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Amie Siegel, Bloodlines, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 12 Mar-04 Sept 2022

Craig Manson, Gay Boys, Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 16th - 28th August 2022

Patti Harrison, The Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 3rd - 27th August 2022

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Tender a response probes and parses the reciprocities that can be found, cultivated and rendered between art and writing—what art may lend to language and what happens when language leans into art. It is led by reviews editor-in-residence Sara O’Brien.