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Dogs & Aesthetes text by Robert Goethals, photography by John Divola John Divola. D25F22 – JGS,

Dogs & Aesthetes

text by Robert Goethals, photography by John Divola

Dogs & Aesthetes text by Robert Goethals, photography by John Divola John Divola. D25F22 – JGS,

John Divola. D25F22 – JGS, Inc. Permanent Collection

Dogs and aesthetes are a lot alike. Both are radical empiricists. When something smells good, it’s hard to dissuade either of them from fully investigating. The sensory world is just too damn irresistible. Dogs and artists instinctively know you have to roll around in things, get down and dirty, as a prelude to further exploration and sniffing. Moreover, as excellent inquirers, dogs and artists never rule anything out as flat-out dumb or unimportant. In their best moments, they take every aspect of experience seriously.

John Divola. D29F06 – JGS, Inc. Permanent Collection In 1996, John Divola cruised the chalky deserts

John Divola. D29F06 – JGS, Inc. Permanent Collection

In 1996, John Divola cruised the chalky deserts west of Angel City, not far from Joshua Tree, on the lookout for lonely -looking houses to shoot. Some lonely dogs, ignited by the stupendous opportunity to chase a car, rocketed after him. It was impossible for the Jean Paul Satre-toting Minimalist not to give these hounds some serious attention. So Divola began packing a cherried- out 35mm with a motor-drive and fast film. What Diviola cinched are almost weightless images of Man’s Best Berserk Friend, real and abstract, peeling across Southern Cali’s wide-open spaces with the energy of a hurricane. Pop your sockets wide open enough and those dawgs’ll hurdle straight down your optic chiasma.

John Divola. D25F02 – JGS, Inc. Permanent Collection If I didn’t tell you the back story

John Divola. D25F02 – JGS, Inc. Permanent Collection

If I didn’t tell you the back story of Divola’s series, Dogs Chasing My Car in the Desert, you might well assume these mesomorphic hounds are desert demons heading for a hell hole, or, alternately, heroic mutts propelled by blind and crazy devotion to save their beloved master from a thicket of young guns. No rattrap compositional formulas here. “Contemplating a dog chasing a car invites any number of metaphors and juxtapositions,” wrote Divola. “For me as an artist using photography this relationship between the specific nature of an individual photograph and its abstract reception as an image is central to my interest in the medium.” So, cutting to the chase, what are these images about? An artist pursuing a vision? A dog running to sniff a turd? Our planet blasting into the orgiastic future? The meaning doesn’t depend on the weighty utterances from the High Temple of Modern Art. It’s on you, doggus.

~ Robert Goethals, January 2011