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Piddling Pooches Prohibited

By Shannon in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 10, 2007 6:30PM

When Magdalena Abakanowicz brought her headless statues to Grant Park in November, she was trying to make a statement. Whether that statement is about individuality or lack thereof, about such familiar things as our own bodies that can be blown up and rendered monstrosities, or about interacting with the unknown ... well, that's for artists and critics to debate. What she probably didn't intend was for her works of art to become makeshift urinals for Chicago's dog population.

Agora by Magdalena AbakanowiczBeginning next week, the Chicago Park District is imposing a ban on dogs in and around "Agora," Abakanowicz's installation of 106 9-foot-tall cast-iron statues. Apparently, dog owners have been letting their pets pee on the unsuspecting behemoths. Dogs seem to be attracted to the format of the structures, with their dark red coloring and wrinkled skin, almost akin to trees. While they already look rusted to hell, a Park District spokeswoman says damage can still be caused. At $3 million, any kind of damage sounds like a royally bad idea.

Naturally, some opposition has been raised. A canine advocate group, South Loop Dog Park Action Co-Op, says an outright ban goes too far and that there should be a way for art aficionados and dog walkers to coexist. We've never visited the installation and are unaware if there's anywhere else for a critical-mass puppy to relieve himself, but the same advocate group partnered with the Park District in 2004 to open Grant Bark Park, a leash-free haven for the shaggy scamps. The two locales are right next to each other. How hard is it to drag your pooch a block away and avoid a $500 fine and a corroded piece of art?

Image courtesy of Ursus Maritimus.