Exposición N° 1
In August, 2007, Vargas displayed his “Exposición N° 1” in the Códice Gallery in Managua, Nicaragua. The exposition included the burning of 175 pieces of crack cocaine and an ounce of marijuana while the Sandinista anthem played backwards. The work also included an emaciated dog tied to a wall by a length of rope with “Eres Lo Que Lees” (“You Are What You Read”) written on the wall in dog food. The work attracted controversy when it was reported that the dog had starved to death as part of Vargas’s work. Photographs of the exhibit appeared on the Internet, showing the dog tied to the wall in a room full of standing people. There are no indications in the photos of where or when they were taken, nor of who took them. The outrage triggered by the photos and the allegations that the dog had been left to starve to death quickly spread internationally via blogs, e-mails, and other unconfirmed sources, including internet petitions to prevent Vargas from participating in the 2008 Bienal Centroamericana in Honduras that received over four million signatures. Vargas has endorsed the petition, saying that he, too, has signed it.
Juanita Bermúdez, the director of the Códice Gallery, stated that the animal was fed regularly and was only tied up for three hours on one day before it escaped. Vargas himself refused to comment on the fate of the dog, but noted that no one tried to free the dog, give it food, call the police, or do anything for the dog. Vargas stated that the exhibit and the surrounding controversy highlight people’s hypocrisy because no one cares about a dog that starves to death in the street. In an interview with El Tiempo, Vargas explained that he was inspired by the death of Natividad Canda, an indigent Nicaraguan addict, who was killed by two Rottweilers in Cartago Province, Costa Rica, while being filmed by the news media in the presence of police, firefighters, and security guards.
Upon conducting a probe, the Humane Society of the United States was informed that the dog was in a state of starvation when it was captured and escaped after one day of captivity; however, the organization also categorically condemned “the use of live animals in exhibits such as this.”  The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) also investigated the exhibit. WSPA found the information regarding the issue to be “inconsistent” and met with sponsors of the Honduras Bienal to ensure that no animals would be abused at the 2008 exhibition in that country.