Estoy Aquí

Still from “Estoy Aquí” (screencaps by the author)

To make the roaming population of thousands of dogs in Santiago, Chile, more visible, two students attached balloons to the scruffy necks of some of these overlooked canines.

Called “Estoy Aquí” (or “I Am Here”), the “urban intervention” as creators Violeta Caro Pinda and Felipe Carrasco Guzmán call it was documented last year in an adorable video showing the dogs with balloons around their necks with things like “Play With Me” and “Do Not Mistreat Me” written in sharpie. The dogs are then followed around a train station as people take notice and give the dogs long scratches under their necks or quick pats on the head.

Estoy Aquí

Still from “Estoy Aquí”

Estoy Aquí

Dogs in “Estoy Aquí”

Estoy Aquí

Still from “Estoy Aquí”

As a small intervention in everyday life, it’s not much, but the optimism and charm in it is engaging. These stray dogs are usually ignored, and it’s a simple action to raise awareness for these animals that are always around, but often forgotten. It reminds me of the Signs for the Homeless project by artists Kenji Nakayama and Christopher Hope that gives hand-painted signs to homeless people to draw attention. There’s also the Trash Project that uses pink polka dot trash bags to draw attention to the heaps of trash on the streets, while also bringing some whimsical beautification. All are modes for bringing eyes where they are usually averted to urban problems through visual interventions.

h/t Pop Up City

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print and online media since 2006. She moonlights...

8 replies on “Bringing Attention to Stray Dogs with a Buoyant Urban Intervention”

  1. Well, certainly a “cute” project…. I sure hope there is some follow-up, i.e. removal of the string/ribbon after the balloons deflate. That type of thing. A small miracle if none of the dogs ingest the ballons/and or string….no doubt the artists’ intentions are in the right place, but….

    1. From watching the video, it didn’t seem like the balloons were too securely on, but yes, I do hope that no balloons were consumed/left to litter the ground!

      1. Well, either they were securely tied, which is problematic from a dog welfare point of view, or they weren’t, which necessarily=litter and very likely a dead bird or two and/or fish, and…..As a ‘dog person’, I file this one under “ROAD TO HELL PAVED W/ GOOD INTENTIONS”.

      1. I read the piece and understood the author’s point regarding the similarity between the projects. However, I felt there could have been more a few more sentences discussing the way that society views homeless individuals as merely a part of the urban landscape, as opposed to citizens living within the city. By leaving the comment, I was hoping to engage with the author in order to elicit a more nuanced response. Thank you for your comment though!

        1. Hi Tallulah, true! There is much more nuance here. I did a quick link to show different ways of using things that are kind of whimsical/highly visual to highlight urban problems, but of course in no way did I mean to equate stray dogs with homelessness. I think the idea of visibility for issues that become sort of part of the urban noise was the parallel I was trying to draw.

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