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Guggenheim Exhibit With Video of Dogs Trying to Fight Stirs Criticism

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Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” a seven-minute video with eight American pit bulls on eight treadmills.

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Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins, Habana

Two weeks before a much-anticipated exhibition featuring Chinese conceptual artists opens at the Guggenheim, the museum is facing intense pressure to exclude one piece of art: a video of dogs trying to fight one another.

The museum tried to tamp down the criticism on Thursday night, announcing in a statement that the piece, “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other,” would stay in the exhibition even though “the work may be upsetting.” The seven-minute clip shows four pairs of American pit bulls charging each other but unable to touch because they are running on nonmotorized treadmills.

Real dogs were used when the piece was first shown in 2003 in Beijing, but the Guggenheim will feature a video of it. Critics and animal-rights supporters have called it animal abuse and started a petition encouraging the museum to remove it.

“The curators of the exhibition hope that viewers will consider why the artists produced it and what they may be saying about the social conditions of globalization and the complex nature of the world we share,” the Guggenheim said in a statement posted on its website on Thursday.

The three-month show, “Art and China After 1989,” opens Oct. 6 in the New York City museum and will feature about 150 pieces of experimental art. Many works are deliberately shocking, including the signature piece, “Theater of the World,” which features live insects and reptiles scurrying under an overhead lamp.

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