NO NEWS NEWS #7
EX LIBRIS
FEBRUARY 14, 2021
WHO’S A GOOD BOY?

WOOF! WOOF! No News News #7 comes straight from the kennel. Together with our pack of loyal contributors we’ve compiled an issue that’s full of doggie stories for you to chew on. Based on the presumption that the world exists through the understanding of dogs (Nietsche!), we look at some of the ways we humans try to make sense of our canine companions. OK, OK, but where are the puppies, you ask? Not to worry: Our models Babette and Zapa are sure to make your eyes pop with their cuteness…

No News News #7 featuring: Aibo, Antje Peters, Behzad Karim-Khani, Christian Werner, Emma Rosenzweig, Jakob Landvik, Jana Gerberding, Raphaela Vogel & Phillip Zach, Rollo, William Wegman

 
 

EDITORIALBY HANS BUSSERT

IT’S ALWAYS THE YEAR OF THE DOG

When we started working on this issue, I made a miscalculation. I had thought that Friday would mark the start of the Year of the Dog. As you might know, we’re now in the Lunar Year of the Ox, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a great time to consider the canine. Not least due to the pandemic that has driven a lot of people to seek the companionship of a dog – prompting animal-rights activists to warn of “pandemic puppies.” To little avail: We’ve all heard the stories about locked-down city dwellers upgrading their hall pass for outdoor activity with a four-legged excuse.

But pandemic or not, dogs feel like they’ve been filling an increasing role in our lives for some time now. There are myriad reasons – the rising number of single households, a longing for simple pleasures in an ever-more complex world, an abundance of online dog content – but just like with that nasty virus, it seems that no one is immune. Check out the New York Times op-ed writer Charlie Warzel’s newsletter “Some Dogs” or the “Animals” section on poet Eileen Myles’ website (following on from her dog memoir Afterglow) – dog lovers are everywhere.

© Jana Gerberding

What’s been interesting to chart is how all this puppy-lovin’ also leads us to see dogs as extensions of ourselves. Our willingness to attribute human characteristics and capabilities to canines knows no bounds. And we here at No News News certainly make no exception: We’ve even managed to snag a rare interview with Rollo, a poodle and companion to artist Raphaela Vogel, where he miraculously discusses this phenomenon in human language. Elsewhere you can find a critique of William Wegman’s highly stylized Weimaraners from a breeder’s perspective and thoughts on the cybercanine appeal of Sony’s Aibo.

Last but not least, I’d like to point you towards something more tangible: To celebrate this dog-themed issue of No News News, we created a bone pendant that’s sure to keep the pack drooling. Engraved with a hearty “WOOF!” on the front, it’s the ideal gift for yourself or a loved one. It might not be the Year of the Dog in the end, but it’s still Valentine’s Day today… Get yours here.

Sincerely,
Hans Bussert

 
 

QUOTE UNQUOTEBY RAPHAELA VOGEL & PHILLIP ZACH

ROLLO THE POODLE PHILOSOPHER, ON READING THE WORLD THROUGH URINE
© Christian Werner

Consider the poodle: smart, complex and almost human-like in its behavior, this second most intelligent breed (¯_(ツ)_/¯) is beloved of humans from the highest echelons: Schopenhauer, Thomas Mann and a Russian aristocrat named Pulaski were all lovers of this fluffy, water-loving king among dogs. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rollo – a white-coated and very droll specimen – managed to buddy up with artist Raphaela Vogel, even inspiring and appearing in some of her works. In this interview with Raphaela and fellow artist Phillip Zach, Rollo opens about anthropocentric ontology and our shortcomings when it comes to understanding the world beyond the limits of our language.

Phillip Zach: Rollo, thank you very much for meeting us today, and taking this unusual step – beyond your nature – of speaking in human language. My first question would be: How do you relate to your own name, Rollo?

Rollo: It’s about the role and the rolling, and that’s my natural movement and so the calling of the name does not interrupt this movement. But, it could be any word with two syllables and a rolling double L, and it’s the rolling quality that I find also in the form and Gestalt of the name. But once, whenever I’m deep in other dreams and other practices the name cannot reach me and my big hairy ears are covering my inner sense, protecting me from even this name.

Raphaela Vogel: How do you know that your ears are furry?

Rollo: I don’t know anything, but deducting from the intensity of my inner life I guess they must be wooly to cover and protect me from outside influences.

Phillip Zach: Coming back to your name: it’s quite onomatopoetic but it’s also about your role in the world. What do you think that specific role is?

Rollo: Onomatopoetic, yes, that’s what it is. RoL–LLL–Oo. I was shortly distracted, there was a plastic animal I needed to lick all over … so I forgot what you were asking.

Phillip Zach: The role.

Rollo: Well, I think there are three major activities, the biggest duty is to sleep and to become a flokati rug at night and most parts of the day and to be without any will or any intention. That’s the complete opposite of my second stage, where I’m just intention and nothing but. That’s where there is some object, edible or not, that is the ultimate object. And it’s not, as humans always say, a fetish, because it doesn’t have a magical relation to anything but it is the very thing itself that I want to get. And then in this situation I am only WANTING, so two thirds of my time I am only wanting OR completely without wishes. And then there is a third, where I am reading the world, walking through it and trying to understand it, and I’m trying to follow hints and guesses and traces, and that’s what in the human world would be literature, or art or culture: for me, that is sniffing.

Phillip Zach: So you’re talking about states between “will” and “not will” which reminds me of Schopenhauer who talked about this in The World As Will And Representation. He also had a poodle which he called Atman, the world-soul. And sometimes, he called his poodle “Du Mensch!” as a derogatory term. What do you think about the anthropomorphizing of dogs, and of you, in the human world?

Rollo: The main problem in human understanding is that humans can only think of activity as related to a kind of holistic idea of a person. Whereas I am completely absorbed by three different types of states, and they are not connected by something that could be conceived as something like subjectivity or individuality. You can only interpret and understand certain traits of repeating behaviour as symptoms of individuality, but from my perspective this concept does not apply. But I think it’s very important to talk about the third state, the state when I walk sniffing through the world. Urine is the main medium of understanding everything. And that’s something that humans also do not understand, because they consider it to be abject – something that they produce, and then it’s gone and separated from them. But for us dogs and other urine experts it is the main medium of difference because it’s something that everyone produces. Everyone smells different, so it’s the perfect medium, it has a continuity, it has constancy and variability. And the smell is not something that is separated from the being that produces the urine, but the smell stays, it is connected with it. It’s not an abjection but it is part of that person.

Raphaela Vogel: And sometimes you even lick the urine.

Rollo: Yes, there are different sensual vehicles and devices of processing. Once I identify it, I sometimes understand that it should not be there, so I have to put my urine on top of it. And there are people who have ideological positions that I do not agree with so I have to pee them out of the world. And now, I’m going to go into the room I’m not allowed to go into.

This interview between Rollo and his human friends was conducted in an apartment near the Pallasseum in Berlin-Schöneberg. Taken by EX LIBRIS favorite Christian Werner, the above images are a testament to Rollo’s star power but also give away his secret kryptonite: cuddles.

 

RETRIEVALBY JOSIE THADDEUS–JOHNS

NOTES FROM THE ROBO SHELTER

I have a question for you: What is a dog? Well, what better way to find out than to see how technology tries to replace it? The Sony Aibo (the name means either “partner” or “pal” depending on whom you ask) was the world’s first robot dog, and arrived in 1999. Its first iteration cost $2500, and immediately sold out, in part (apparently) due to its starring role in Janet Jackson’s self-consciously futuristic video for “Doesn’t Matter”. Over the next seven years, Sony put out an ever-developing roster of robot dogs, each one slightly more sophisticated than the next, the cloying cyber-aesthetic of the early ’00s evident in every rounded silver snout.

The end product was expensive and available only via exclusive channels. It was for adults, not children, unlike the many knockoff toys that followed, and the Furbies that preceded it. It may not be a huge surprise, then, that the Aibo was designed by an illustrator of sexy female robots: Hajime Sorayama. The dog’s designs are now in the collections of MoMA and the Smithsonian, valuable historical evidence of our desire for our robots to be subservient, obedient and controllable.

After all, like our meatier four-legged friends, the Aibo was always intended to be trained. Owners could feel like they were really creating personalities for these creatures, who would take their cues from interactions like voice commands, special Aibo-friendly toys and petting.

Sadly for these dedicated Aibo-lovers, in 2006 Sony withdrew its support for the first-generation Aibos, meaning this community of plastic pet owners were suddenly out of veterinarians. It wasn’t the end though: In 2018, they were back with a cuter reboot – the LED eyes of the ERS-1000 making them just a touch more adorable. All Aibo models, though, have some things in common: They inconvenience and delight owners with their responses, just like a “real” dog would.

It’s easy to diminish the desirability of the Aibo. Their hard cyborg shells are unappealing to cuddle or stroke, and their limited range of movement and response makes it hard for them to be unexpected in a way that truly delights. But the thing that is truly missing, to me, is dogs’ transcendent grottiness. Their willingness to roll in the shit of life, to enthusiastically sniff the excrement of mortality.

While the latest version of Aibo – which uploads its data to the cloud, and has wireless connectivity and facial recognition – is still, both literally and figuratively, big in Japan, the cyber-dog niche has a different resonance in the West today. Popular culture has convinced us of the “killer robot” possibility. Meanwhile, there is a growing awareness of the outsize impact that machine-taught algorithms have on our lives, through social media, search engines and even predictive text. Just like dogs, both real and Sony-produced, Alexa, Siri and Google track our movements and responses, adjusting and shifting without us ever noticing. By making the “training” element of machine-learning part of the fun of playing with an Aibo, Sony's robot dog is somehow more honest, an entertainment-version of the unavoidable tools we use to govern our lives. Plus, last time I checked – Alexa’s ears don’t waggle.

Though originally a cat person, our Senior Editor Josie Thaddeus-Johns has now become a sucker for canines, especially since moving to the US in 2019. When not learning the names of every puppy in her neighborhood, she writes for the New York Times, Economist, Frieze and others.

 

FULL DISCLOTHESURE BY JANA GERBERDING

CHANNELING THAT PUPPY LOVE

Behold the result of what was surely our most pleasant casting call yet. Imagine posting a story on Instagram calling for puppies for a photoshoot and then being sent pic after pic after pic of big-eyed fur babies. Heaven. Turns out most newbie dog owners are totally in awe of their young charges and are only too happy to share that emotion with others. Cue our model Nicolas’s small furry co-stars, to-die-for Babette, a nine-week-old Teckel – your original wiener dog – and Zapa, the most curious furball of mixed lineage, who at three months old was just discovering her “mighty” bark. Cuteness overload!

What’s even better than puppy love? The real thing, of course. That’s why we’ve created a silver pendant that’s perfect for basking in the glow of the most enduring canine admiration. Engraved with a hearty “WOOF!” on the front, it’s the ideal gift for yourself or a loved one – whether they’re still out fetching or cozily snuggled up in the kennel. Click here to get yours.

Photographer: Jana Gerberding; Grooming: Isabel Maria Simoneth; Model: Nicolas Lammer via Ulla Models; Animal Talents: Babette & Zapa

 
 

SIT STAY WATCHCRITIC’S KENNEL

WEIGHING IN ON WEGMAN’S WEIMARANERS

It’s probably the greatest modeling dynasty of all time: Fay Ray, her children Battina, Crooky and Chundo, Battina’s son Chip, Chip’s son Bobbin as well as Candy and Bobbin’s daughter – all have posed in front of the camera like no other family before them. The Rays, of course, are Weimaraners, and together with Fay’s predecessor Man Ray (no relation) they made a name for themselves as William Wegman’s obedient collaborators. The artist has photographed them in so many poses, often wearing human outfits, that they have become anthropomorphised in his work, prompting museum texts to speak of the dogs as “models”. (Wegman’s own website mentions their “deadpan presence”.)

While their modeling prowess works on film, we got to wondering how Wegman’s pack would have fared in the wide open world of live modeling events for canines, a.k.a dog shows? Are Crooky and Chundo’s amber-colored eyes the “correct” tone? What about Chip’s “Harrasburg Horns” (small skin flaps on the ears) and Bobbin’s “Grafmar’s Caps”(a light patch on the top of the head)? Sandra Hohman, a hunter and breeder of Weimaraners in North Rhine-Westphalia, doesn’t even want to go there. From a breeder’s perspective Wegman’s photos are less than ideal, as the dogs are depicted as thoroughly integrated into the civilized home. “They look handsome but the images might mislead people into thinking that Weimaraners are normal family dogs – which they are not,” said Hohman. “They are hunting dogs and should be treated as such.”

And yet, it seems that this integration into human activity is what has made them so famous. Wegman’s Weimaraners come across as the embodiment of that elusive but also inherently human trait known as “cool” – Wegman once told Entertainment Weekly, that, when off-duty, his dogs act “rather blasé about life”. Indeed, this modelling dynasty says more about our fantasies than whatever is actually going on in Chips, Candy or Topper’s tangerine-sized brains.

Love Wegman’s Weimaraners as much as everyone else but prefer to see them in a more natural habitat? Buy a rare copy of William Wegman’s Dogs on Rocks in our shop. Taken while he was in residence at The Acadia Summer Arts Program in Maine, many of the images in this book feature the rocky vistas of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, where the program is located.

 

Taken from Behzad Karim-Khani’s debut novel Hund. Wolf. Schakal. to be published later this year. The title enigmatically describes a pair of siblings who might seem very different but are much more alike than society would like them to be...

 

DOGGY STYLE BY ANTJE PETERS

DON’T HATE THE MAILMAN

So we’ve been hanging out with you human types for some 30,000 years now. And yeah, we picked up a trick or two. No, I’m not talking paw-high-fives or rolling over on the floor for one of your dry biscuits. We know how to please – but we also know how to bark the bark. That’s why we’re currently so obsessed with all those FedEx and UPS vans pulling up. Our human pals have been online shopping like crazy and it’s only fair that we get our share in that. Hit me with some ACNE jewelry, a pair of Balenciaga sunnies, plus a bone to chew on and I’m game!

This ode to corgi couture takes inspiration from the “point-of-sale” displays you used to find when IRL shopping was still a thing. It repurposes an illustration by master draftsman Mike Sibley (he took some 75 hours to draw me) and I do hope that instead of all these pesky mailmen, I’ll see my face on every single one once we’re shopping in person again.

Photographer: Antje Peters; Drawing: Mike Sibley. Buy this and other drawings here.

 

ESSAYBY EMMA ROSENZWEIG

WHAT DOGS TAUGHT ME ABOUT GRIEF, LOVE AND PARENTHOOD
© Jakob Landvik

As a child I was obsessed with sorrow. I saw sadness and inner pain as a symbol of the human condition, like proof of being alive. I spent most of my days in school crying alone in the toilet, so I didn’t learn much, besides how to look at myself in the mirror in tears. Maybe this was also the reason why I was so preoccupied with the fact that I never experienced my father being sad. He seemed like he had hundreds of secrets, which he would never reveal to the world, nor to me. I thought that the biggest secret of all was that when it came down to it, he was a very sad person.

My father ran away from home when he was 17 years old. He was a Danish chess champion, had long black hair and studied psychology. He got a German Shepherd, and called it Kashmir. The dog would follow my father everywhere. One time, the police suspected my father and his friends of hiding weed in their car so they threw the weed out onto the road. When they came back later to look for it, Kashmir would find it for him. The German Shepherd was my father’s best friend. He died the year before I was born. One day when I was around 12, I gathered up the courage to ask my father when the last time he had cried was. He told me it was when Kashmir died.

I decided to get a dog when I was 21 because I was not good at being alone. I got a Border Collie because I knew someone who also had one, and I heard they were clever. I would never get myself a stupid dog, I thought to myself. I called the dog Makker, which is Danish for ‘pal’. He would follow me everywhere: in restaurants to have dinner; on the train to work; he followed me when I slept with guys, and laid right down on the floor next to the bed. One evening I was on my way home with Makker and a German Shepherd came out of the dark and attacked him. The dog belonged to an old woman and she couldn’t control it. It felt like a beast growing out of the dark, the ghost of my father’s dog Kashmir, screaming from the dead. I tried to get rid of the dog with my bare hands as it attacked, but it was not easy. The old woman ended up throwing all her bodyweight on top of her dog and stayed on top of it as she screamed: “Get away! Leave!” When we got home, I called my father, who told me: “If a dog attacks your dog, always pull it by its hind legs and stick a finger up its ass.”

Makker was a loving dog who would look at me in pain when I packed my bag and left for the airport. He would get anxiety because he could not be without me. I had a chaotic life, and a lot of different people would look after him when I was out of town. Makker was so scared of me leaving him that he would always lay his jaw on my foot when I sat down. Just to be sure.

When I was 24, I met a man who had just got a dog he called Fanny. He wanted us to all take a walk together. And so, we did. Fanny and Makker fell in love. And a little later, we humans followed their lead. Fanny is a Great Dane and she is very lazy. She doesn’t care if we leave the house, but she does care if we serve her food on time. Four years ago, we had a son. When he is sad, they lick his tears away from his eyes and he smells their bad breath. He says it stinks of dead fish.

Meanwhile, I gave up waiting for my father’s tears. I realized I would never see them. He still talks about Kashmir, once in a while, this symbol of grief: a feeling that died with his beloved dog.

Emma Rosenzweig is an artist who works with text, film and photography. Currently a student at Städelschule in Frankfurt, the former model and actress spends her time between the Hessian city and her native Copenhagen.

 

PROCUREMENTAT THE PET SHOP

HEY, GIVE THAT BACK!

Are you too feeling the urge to chew on anything and anyone? Join the (kennel) club. While we’re sure this feeling is going to wane for us humans in a few months or so, your pupper is likely to endure it for many more dog years. After all, training a puppy/shelter dog/little monster requires more human self-discipline than you ever imagined. Fear not: We have all the recommendations to help you master that little demon. One thing though: After this, if your dog doesn’t obey then it’s not the toys – it’s you…

Poop Bag Dispenser

So, mankind has travelled to the moon but here we are, still picking up dog poop manually? It’s possible, in fact, that this undignified act is what keeps many people from getting a dog in the first place. If you have to do it, why not use Heron Preston’s “VIP Edition Poop Bag Dispenser”, part of his NASA-inspired capsule collection? It will keep you, we think, “one small step” ahead of the rest of mankind. Until new U.S. Space Force takes a whiff and gets down to business, that is.

Duck Dummy

Training a dog for hunting is no small feat, but many breeders will say that’s really the only way to handle gun dogs. But even if it’s in their genes, no Irish Setter puppy will know how to properly retrieve a shot bird. This is where this duck dummy comes into play: Billed as the “ideal toy to train your dog on those chill summer days on the grounds,” a situation so many of us find ourselves in, it makes for a different kind of game of fetch. It’s best to teach the most crucial lessons early: No shaking off water until after the duck is dropped. We can all agree that it’s better than maiming any actual ducks.

Marine Serre Leash & Collar

If she’s really been a good girl, why not treat her to some Marine Serre? Yes, even your canine companion might like a piece of this rising fashion star. NB, the leash and collar’s buffed leather is studded with the designer’s already-iconic crescent moon logo. We’re not sure how much dogs actually care about astrology – unless it’s the Chinese Year of the Dog, of course – but maybe it can serve as a little reminder to your Rover that even for dogs, the glass is sometimes only half full.

Heather Root

The Wellness Industrial Complex has long extended its realm into the lives of our four-legged friends (using us as all-too-willing vectors). It’s really no surprise then that a lot of doggie supplies are advertised as eco- or something-or-other-conscious. This dog chew is no exception. Grown sustainably from renewable tree heather roots, it not only serves as an appetite suppressant for dogs with a little extra around their girth – “so healthy!” – but it also ticks the mindfulness box: by doing wonders with plaque it can reduce halitosis. That’s going to help everyone feel a little more zen.

Benedrool

Let’s be honest, we’re all in the shit right now. Confused, messed-up, but coping (if we’re lucky), and our dogs are right there with us. So why not admit to what both we, and they, need – which is to indulge those baser instincts, those guiltier pleasures, popping whatever substances you need to get by. We’re talking, of course, about squeaky toys. The canine love for these “Benedrools” knows no bounds; a soft, fuzzy friend to rely on when the boredom hits. If that doesn’t sound like your pup’s tipple, you could also go for some “Ibpoopin,” or try a “Furcocet” or a “Viagrowl” (long-lasting pleasure, guaranteed).

 

Every issue of No News News features a dedicated book plate. These ex libris, as they are also called, are commissioned works of art traditionally used to indicate ownership of one’s books. The one below is a riff of the famous mascot from Weimar-era satire magazine Simplicissimus – modified by EX LIBRIS art director Enver Hadzijaj:

 

EXLIBRIS.BERLIN

Editor: Hans Bussert (V.i.S.d.P.)
Art Director: Enver Hadzijaj
Senior Editor: Josie Thaddeus-Johns
Special Projects: Laust Frederiksen
Proofreader: Redfern Jon Barrett
Web Development: Bruno Meilick

Image credits: Antje Peters, Christian Werner,
Jana Gerberding, Jakob Landvik, Mike Sibley,
William Wegman

Stay in the loop by following us on
Instagram – no Twitter, TikTok or Facebook.

© 2021 EX LIBRIS Hans Bussert
Potsdamer Strasse 97, 10785 Berlin