Glenn Polyn//November 1, 2023//
Glenn Polyn //November 1, 2023//
New York City’s Fotografiska Museum is the site of the much-anticipated exhibit, Best in Show: Pets in Contemporary Photography, which was presented in collaboration with Badlands Ranch, the ultra-premium dog nutrition brand by Emmy-winning actress and animal activist, Katherine Heigl. I had the opportunity to attend the opening of the exhibition, which runs through January2024 and features the works of two dozen artists arranged across two museum floors. The theme of the 130+ works of art is the role that pets have played in culture and how they stand in as representations of status, power, loyalty, compassion and, of course, companionship.
“During the pandemic, when this exhibition was conceived, pet ownership grew exponentially,” said Sophie Wright, executive director of Fotografiska New York. “It’s now rare to walk down a pavement in New York or any big city without passing several dogs and their devoted owners. And that’s not to mention most people’s daily dose of animal videos online — a soothing and often comedic counterpoint to the news cycle. Our mutual dependence leads to the question, who owns whom? This exhibition brings together celebrated New Yorkers such as William Wegman and Elliott Erwitt along with an international roster of contemporary practitioners to explore our relationship to our pets, in all its complexity.”
“As a dog nutrition brand committed to nourishing our beloved animals with the very best ingredients, we are thrilled to be partnering with Fotografiska for their ‘Best in Show,’ exhibition, a dedication to not only our incredible pets, but to the artists who capture what makes them so special,” explained Somina Park, brand director of Badlands Ranch.
“Animals and art are two things I am very passionate about,” said Heigl. “I am excited to celebrate some of the world’s greatest photographers and artists while honoring our love for our pets.”
One dollar of every ticket sold for the exhibit will go to the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, a nonprofit that Heigl and her mother Nancy co-founded in 2008 in honor of Katherine’s late brother. The foundation helps fund pet education programs, actively supports spay/neuter programs and pet adoption programs, and provides funding to help other rescue groups. It also funds and supports dog transport programs that relocate dogs from local overcrowded Southern California shelters to both no-kill shelter sand rescues in areas where there is greater demand for pets. To date, the foundation has helped countless animals in need by funding more than 25,000 spay/neuter surgeries; transporting of over 8,000 animals out of high-kill shelters to areas where they are rapidly adopted; funding microchipping and vaccination programs; and supporting an overwhelming variety of adoption, training and advocacy programs intently focused on improving the plight of our pets.
“This is helping us with the foundation,” noted Heigl of the Best in Show partnership. “In this last year, my mother has donated over $3 million out of her own pocket for the animals. I don’t say that $3 million number lightly – that’s a lot of money – and that was from January 1 to today. And there’s still thousands of pets languishing. We can’t financially carry it alone, and we’ve tried for along time. I don’t like asking for donations. It makes me uncomfortable. It’s her life mission, and I want to relieve the burden for her. This is a way for me to help the foundation.”
Be sure to check out the Best in Show photo gallery to view Ben Rosser’s photos from the event