“ANDY!“ – Oxidation paintings by Mambo (2008)
Copper metallic pigment and dog urine on canvas, 30 cm x 40 cm
A series of “piss-paintings“ created in Rio de Janeiro during 2008 by the dog Mambo with the assistance of his master Eugenio who trained Mambo to piss on the copper painted canvases each time he said “ANDY!”.
Interview between Heike Wetzig and Kristofer Paetau (September 2008 & July 2009)
Did Mambo piss at command or spontaneously, according to his nature? He seems to be a true friend to his master. But you might have arranged a clandestine manipulation, confronting us with a Warhol-like series of art production in a continuation in time and by accident. What is the difference between this work and Andy Warhol himself pissing a painting?
I first met Mambo and his master Eugenio in 2007 when I was in a residency in Rio de Janeiro. Eugenio was working in a circus and he had just bought Mambo who was only a couple of weeks old. At that time I already wanted to realize the piss painting project with Mambo but he was too young and my residency was only 2 months. When I moved from Berlin to live in Rio de Janeiro one year later, I contacted Eugenio to see if we could go on with the project now that Mambo was one year old and I had all the time I wanted. It took Eugenio about one month to train Mambo to piss on the copper painted canvases each time he said “Andy!”. Then we made the first walks together, filming Mambo in action. By the way: Andy Warhol used to ask his friends, assistants and occasional visitors to piss on the canvases. So the main difference is the process of teaching a dog to piss on a canvas at command and to film this painting process when it first took place in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Later on Mambo had his ’studio’ during three months in the backyard of Eugenios house, working on the paintings three times a day – each time Eugenio took him out for a walk.
What do you think about the artistic process and the obvious aesthetic value of this ongoing series, and how about the selling price?
I always liked the animal art productions that I saw on television when I was a child: elephants and monkeys painting beautiful abstract expressionism. I liked the idea of trying to make ‘conceptual’ abstract expressionist paintings with a dog and to copy Andy Warhols Oxidation Paintings that I love, because I see them as beautiful and irreverent statements on abstract expressionism – the official art at that time in the USA. The fact that paintings made by an animal can be as beautiful as paintings made by human beings is also thrilling me. And I like the fact that a chemical reaction can produce beautiful paintings randomly. Of course the results of the work are very much determined by how I prepare the canvas with the copper paint, how much and which type of copper pigments I use, what binder I use, what type of canvas I use and even more important is how Eugenio is manipulating the canvases that Mambo is pissing on. If he leaves them flat on the ground over night or if he puts them against a wall, how many times Mambo pisses on the canvases etc. So at the end it is a collaboration with a lot of surprises for me. But my main interest is the concept and the process behind the paintings. This series of paintings took me a long time to prepare and to carry out with the help of Eugenio and his dog Mambo. I don’t know what to say about the selling price. Until today I have only sold one small work in my whole life and I guess selling your own art on the internet is the last thing to do so that’s why I’m interested in trying it out.
Do you love dogs?
That depends on the dog. In my family we always had a dog called Tina. When Tina died my parents bought another female dog of the same race and called her Tina too. At some point I lost the count. There must have been at least three or four Tinas. Right now I am more fascinated by birds. In my small room in Rio I lived with a cockatiel which was imitating other birds and I recently made a project with a parrot which ended quite sadly.
You might have some basic ideas about the so-called bad taste, about popular culture and art, about communication, art amateurs and animals, or the importance of wit (in art). Would you like to talk about that?
I think bad taste is essential. Bad taste is not the same as lack of taste, bad taste is challenging our conceptions of (good) taste. Art needs bad taste, popular culture, amateurism and amateurs (lovers) – maybe also animals.