Starting in the 19th century, due to the liberation of animal power after the Industrial Revolution, dogs were raised for play and company rather than for labor as the primary function, making the demand for appearance gradually parallel to and even surpass that for performance in breed standardization. Meanwhile, the pursuit of singularity in terms of breed led to an attentiveness toward blood and symbolism of names and eventually came to partly conform with scientific and political thought at that time.
Similarly, the pottery and ceramic industry was deeply affected by the Industrial Revolution. The demand for ceramic for ordinary use was met thanks to the matured molding technique enabling mass pottery and ceramic production in the mid-18th century. Meanwhile, decorative ceramics began to penetrate the life of general populace, being no longer luxury craft objects dedicated to the upper class. In my view, these ceramic decorations mass produced through molding and considered rather kitsch today possess a logic echoing that of pedigree dogs being propagated and certified according to the standard criteria.
Whether in propagation or reproduction, artificial shaping is involved. It can be assumed that our attitude toward dogs, the kind of animal that is closest to man, is extended from our will to civilization. Dog breeds, human races: there have been several historical moments when dog and national identity came to intersect intentionally or unintentionally. Empathy toward dog breeding seemed to alleviate the impertinence of conditioning nations with human races. No Country for Canine (the Chinese title “馴國” literally means “Domestication of nations”) is like a session of ring toss: putting aside the animal that cannot make a voice (dog), artificial object (ceramic) shaped after them and the history of producer (man) in an attempt to land the ring around the tiny peg situated at the intersection of the three.
Exhibition catalogue of WU Chuan-Lun’s “No Country for Canine” at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan from August 17 to November 3 2019, featured Wu’s ongoing project centered around (German Shepherd) dogs, the man-made representations of the breed, and the ideology behind the breed and its history. The catalogue features exhibition introduction, works (found porcelain from Allach, Katzhütte and Taiwan; custom-made porcelain, brass sculptures, drawings, photographs, writing, video stills,) historical images and exhibition documentary. With two texts by CHEN Kuan-Yu and CHU Feng-Yi.