Good Dog | An ongoing series of artist's books
What can we learn from a dog about our human experience? Good Dog is a series of artist's books that pairs photographs of a West Highland White Terrier, named Max, with words of great writers, artists, and philosophers. In this setting, the little white dog is the Everyman.
I don't know why I don't know
based on Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Humans continually question the purpose of our existence while our faithful canine companions do no such thing, experiencing their lives with boundless optimism. The photographs in I don't know why I don't know depict Max hemmed in by a concrete environment with little color variation, mimicking the bleak atmosphere of the words from Samuel Beckett's existentialist masterpiece, Waiting for Godot. In I don't know why I don't know, the dog stands in for human inquisitiveness, drawing a parallel between Max's literal seeking and the metaphorical self-exploration that we humans engage in so regularly.
with the words of well-known visual artists
"Artist are obsessive people. They are driven by a need to create[,]" says Charlee Brodsky, the photographer who made this photo-narrative. Max is the eponymous character, traversing urban and natural landscapes to find inspiration in all manner of things from bricks and pipes to tall grass and clovers. Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, Georgia O'Keefe, Michelangelo, and many more artists lend their musings to Max's reverie which examines the facets of why we need to create and how we pursue our creative paths. Conception and production are messy events in human experience, not restricted to the sterility of a museum, considered here through fine-art photographs of a "living, breathing...defecating work of art."
based on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Max becomes the Monster of Mary Shelley’s iconic novel Frankenstein, which provides the language for this photobook. Monster sets up a sympathetic creature—a dog with whom we’re more likely to connect than some members of our own species—as the Other, the despised, the “unfortunate and deserted creature.” Who among us hasn’t experienced this before in one way or another? Vivid photographs of Max elicit empathy for a being who feels such despair, reminding us that prejudice will exist as a part of flawed humanity, but that it’s our duty to continue to examine our behavior, its impetus, and its effect.
While the Sun Is Bright or in the Darkest Night
with the words of William Shakespeare from various plays
While the Sun Is Bright or in the Darkest Night takes its title from a song by The Rolling Stones, but its text from the words of William Shakespeare (with slight adaptations by the artist). This book from the Good Dog series explores love and the complexity of relationships using subjects that are both unique and fitting: Max and Sam Brodsky play the “lovers,” adding a spirit of humor and lightheartedness to vibrant photographs, while paying homage to Shakespearian theatre traditions in which men played the parts of women.
with the words of great thinkers
Human sophistication and advancement have still not created a form of government that is agreed upon as the best course of action for the common good. Political Animal was made in the fall of 2011 in response to a U.S. presidential primary election rife with discord and animosity. Using Max as the “political animal” acknowledges the primal nature of power but strips from it the devious calculations that man adds to the game, leaving the reader to render a fresh interpretation of language taken from politicians and philosophers whose disparate ideologies aren’t so readily apparent here.
an abridgment of S., based on Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
featuring Max Brodsky
Sorry for Life
based on Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Sorry for Life is an extreme abridgment of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, casting Max as the Underground Man who rejects the world (and, by his perception, is rejected) and who suffers from the questioning of a conscious and active mind. Dostoevsky’s narrator is as pessimistic as Max is sanguine, as over-analytical as Max is carefree. The result is a photo-narrative that turns sympathetic a character who, in his original novel form, was repulsive in his selfishness, making Sorry for Life the type of art that requires us to revisit standard perceptions and question our view of the world.
based on Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Dual Tracks considers humanity’s impact on the environment by weaving the words of John Muir into a monologue for Max as he roots through Pittsburgh’s urban areas. While Muir is in awe of nature and abhors humanity’s blind destruction, Max finds each pile of rubble and trash to be a delight, a treasure to be treated with the same deliberation with which Muir would treat a mountain. Balancing idealism and realism, Dual Tracks wonders at the impulse to trek, to conquer, and what will be either the cost or the reward.