While Natividad was alive, people just went around and ogled him, not handing him any food or drink. This seems to be what Vargas wanted to illustrate, that dogs lead miserable lives and that people are generally apathetic about it. I've read various reasons as to why he'd do this kind of installation art and in my mind, not one of them could justify the cruelty he subjected this dog to.
Personally, I find it disgusting. I'd like to know how he would feel if I tied him to a wall and let him starve to death and then I'd make an artist's statement of: "This is how miserable people live. Many die everyday and yet the fortunate ones are apathetic."
(Ironically, Vargas is a multi-awarded artist. Hm, if there's such thing as "Blood Diamonds", looks like there are also "Blood Awards.")
Some of the artists who actually agree with Vargas argue that the exhibit was inspired by Marcel Duchamp, one of the proponents of Dadaism. The Dada artists' goal is to reject what the world is becoming. Meaning, the more acceptable to the public your art is, the more it could not be considered Dada art.
All I know is that Duchamp never used live animals to prove a point.
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