The Shepherd Dogs Part I.
Vintage ceramic, pencil on paper, dog treats (lamb meat), photograph, archives (book, magazine, postcard) | Installation size｜2017
Since around 2012, I have started to collect numerous ceramic money boxes in the shapes of German Shepherd Dog made in Taiwan in the early days. The era when their production began remains to be verified. Yet one can be quite assured of the fact that the production stopped in the 1990s due to relocation of factories. This kind of ceramics used to be prizes for ring-throwing in the night markets is not exquisite in terms of workmanship, but it has been widely popular because of the handsome image of the dog and the practicality of saving money. By the bedside, on the desk, in the cupboard, they smirk and accompany us until the last moment when they have to be broken for taking out the coins in their bellies. Once deeply embedded in every household, they became, in the golden age of economic take-off, a particular collective memory of Taiwanese as a Taiwanese Shepherd Dog.
Dogs and sheep are said to be the first two animals to be domesticated by humans. After the industrial revolution, due to the decline in demand for animal power, the dog turned to companionship and play. The Victorian era saw the start of "pure breeding". Breeding is itself a process of standardization and normalization. All purebred dogs are basically artificial results, and nomination of dog breeds often also implies ideology. Today, there are more than 80 kinds of Shepherd Dog in the world. Some of them have been officially certified by FCI, and some have only been circulated among small circles. But almost all of them are named after countries, regions or races. Sometimes, it seems that one can perceive national allegories through the breeding history of the dogs.
The "German Shepherd Dog" was originally a native dog popular in the German countryside. Shortly after the establishment of the German Empire (Deutsches Reich), the breeder Max von Stephanitz officially endowed it the corresponding name "Deutscher Schäferhund" in 1899. Later, they quickly left the country and entered the military and police fields. Since then, they have become closely linked to military history. The Nazis regarded it as an ideal model of eugenics and promoted it as a symbol of Germany. During World War II, widely used in military forces in various countries, it reached the peak of breeding. Even today, even if it has gradually faded out from military and police uses due to degradation, it is still generally synonymous with military dogs. In the process where German Shepherd Dog spread to the world along with war and colonization, its name also changed according to political and war factors. For example, in 1933, the Society for the German Shepherd Dog ruled that the white German Shepherd Dog was disqualified because the white was easily perceived on the battlefield. It was later re-bred in Switzerland, but its name was changed to “White Swiss Shepherd Dog”. From World War II to the Cold War, German Shepherd Dog was bred in England, France, Russia and East Germany and was thus named differently according to the diverse regions.
After World War I, the German Empire ceded Qingdao previously under its rule to Japan. Japan thus gained many breeding dogs. The earliest German Shepherd Dog in Taiwan probably came with Japanese rule. Although the Japanese used Taiwanese native dogs as military dogs, it was this kind of fierce "German Shepherd Dog" that the general populace encountered. At the time of the Japanese retreat, many officers transferred the dogs to the gentry at that time because it was inconvenient to carry them. After the KMT Government moved to Taiwan, the German Shepherd Dog continued to serve in military and police units in the following epoch. Always circulated among high ranks, the German Shepherd Dog has become a symbol of authority, superiority and expensiveness in the society. Perhaps it has contributed to the popularity of money boxes shaped after it among the public in the era of Taiwan’s gradual opening-up.
“德國牧羊犬”原本只是普遍存在日耳曼鄉村的土種狗，在德意志帝國成立後不久，於1899由育種家Max von Stephanitz正式賦予了相配的名字“Deutscher Schäferhund”。後來它們很快地脫離了鄉村進入了軍警領域，從此與軍事史緊密相連。納粹曾將它視為優生學的理想範本，並且推崇為德國象徵。在二戰中因為各國軍隊採用而達到繁殖高峰，一直到今日即使因為退化而逐漸淡出軍警用途，一般人還是視為軍犬的同義詞。在德牧隨著戰爭與殖民擴散到世界的過程中，他的名稱也應著政戰因素改變。如德國德牧協會在1933年，就以白色容易在戰場上被發現的理由，而將白色的德牧判為失格。直到後來在瑞士被重新培育，但也改從此稱為瑞士白牧羊犬。而從二戰到冷戰期間，英、法、俄、東德都各有培育德牧，也因為立場不同而被冠上不同名稱。
Dog treats (lamb meat) | Installation size, a set of 8 pieces | 2017
Purebreds -GSD, (DDR)GSD, VEO, WSSD
Pencil on paper | 84.2×59.4 cm｜2017