May 20, 2010 10:00 AM

Bennett Miller’s work happens in waves. For four years earlier this decade, the sculptor and installation artist focused on a mini golf series. Since, he’s moved onto dachshunds– his primary muse being his own, a 2-year-old named Otto.

He had been working on various projects featuring dachshunds in human environments, though only one dog at a time. Then, he saw the theme for Next Wave Festival: No Risk Too Great held in Australia this month. He decided on a festival piece that would be challenging, even impossible to pull off.

Over the course of three hour-long performances, each requiring the participation of at least 47 dogs, Miller would recreate the United Nations Human Rights Council using dogs as models, all of them doxies. In total, he would need the help of 141 pooches and their owners, and he would have to devise a structure that would look like the U.N., but allow for the dogs to be comfortable for 60 minutes while in position.

“I think the U.N. is a great organization,” Miller tells “It is inherently difficult to have [the] world’s different countries’ interests looked after by one party. I tried to set up my project to imitate this. I wanted it to be slightly dysfunctional, but mostly beautiful and endearing.”

Somehow, Miller managed to round up all the dogs each performance would require, only cutting three from the roster when he realized they were too badly behaved (and not very well-treated). He took two months to build a structure that was open at the back so that owners could stand with their dogs (while still being hidden from view). “It ended up being quite involved,” he says.

The first performance, which took place Saturday, went off as well as it could. The sun was shining, there was a huge crowd, and most of the dogs stayed calm throughout the hour, thanks to some time spent running around a park prior to show time.

“There were some moments when two ‘countries’ next to each other would lick each other, so that was funny and not accurate,” Miller says. “The majority of the dogs seemed to have a really good time doing it, though some fell asleep towards the end.”

The other sessions may end up being more chaotic than the first, but whatever happens, Miller sees his project as a success.

“I am just happy that the Dachshund U.N. eventually came to life and that people have enjoyed it,” he says. “Having said that, if anyone reading this is interested, I would love to restage the project in the States!”

Click here to see a gallery of Bennett Miller’s art installation!

See more dachshunds on
Confessions of … a Newly Minted Dachmaniac!
Workout Video! This Dachshund Does Water Aerobics

You May Like