Irina Werning’s Study of Chini, A Chinese Crested

Irina Wernig Chini Project

Irina Wernig Chini Project

Irina Wernig Chini Project

Irina Wernig Chini Project

In keeping with today’s theme of tiny things and my week’s theme of dogs, I am posting about a type of dog that is particularly small and unattractive, yet adorable: the Chinese Crested. But, this isn’t just any Chinese Crested. This is Chini, a Chinese Crested that is the muse for hot, new photographer of the moment, Irina Werning.

You may or may not remember, but Werning was actually featured a month or so ago for her Back To The Future project. While doing some research this week, I stumbled upon two projects she has been working on with Chini, who is a friend her’s dog that she has been captivated by. One project is a silly, funny costume based photo project and the other is a look into the life of her muse in London. Both are absolutely amazing.

The Chini Project is the costumed based project where Werning would build tiny sets and costume pieces for the dog and then photograph it. This anthropomorphizing of Chini is more than just “cutesy,” though. Like Back To The Future, there is more at work in her process: she harps on every detail of creation, functioning as a costume designer, set designer, art director, and director of these mini-movies which she captures as a photo. The workmanship is remarkable, not to mention the amount of humor injected into every scenario. To blow these off as flippant character photos would be a shame: how many takes did it take her to get that tailor or queen’s guard photo? Probably not just one. More like hundreds. And, if you take a look at the rest of the photos, you’ll see more of the same and wonder, “Man. How long did it take for her to craft these??”

The second, more contemplative project is A Day In The Life Of My Muse, where Werning plays documentarian to her little dog subject. These photos take us to art museums, gay pride festivities, walks, bus rides, and even into the arms of strangers. The gaze here is a lot more complex, peering into a dog’s life of privilege and pampering. The photos she took remind me a lot of the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Bret Easton Ellis: two artists obsessed with a generation lost. Yeah, yeah: I know Chini is a dog and that Werning is a photographer, but her photos capture this lackadaisical, entitled, opulent energy that Fitzgerald and Ellis have set their lives after. Here, a dog symbolizes just that. And, specifically, the Chinese Crested as a prized toy breed hit that note even harder.

Irina Werning’s work with Chini is, like all of her work is proving to be, detailed and incredibly fun. I’m anxious to see what else she has up her sleeve, as she is now two for two in my book. Granted, this go around, she had a dog in her corner to give her an extra boost.

Happy National Puppy Day!

KYLE

March 23, 2011