Monday 4/2: Response to William Wegman’s “Spelling Lesson”


This video short features Wegman appearing to correct a spelling quiz taken by his first Weimaraner dog, Man Ray. The clip shows the two sitting at a low table reviewing an illegible piece of paper that is obviously the test his pet had supposedly  just completed before the video began. Of the many Wegman videos I have seen, this one is almost certainly my favorite.

I believe the main reasons I find this video in particular so appealing are the clip’s simple delivery of the concept and the endearing nature of Wegman’s obviously affectionate relationship with Man Ray. While I appreciate Wegman’s later videos in which he dresses up his dogs to look like humans, like Alphabet Soup (1995), the effect can be rather creepy. The simplicity of Spelling Lesson leaves the clip without this creative addition and allows me to focus more on the concept itself. I find the way he addresses Man Ray so sincerely to be the most comical part of the piece’s adorable humor. It makes the event seem like bland chore they do every day which renders the absurdity of the situation even more obvious and, therefore, amusing. In the end, Man Ray can no longer sit still and leans out to lick Wegman’s face after being corrected for misspelling “beach” “b-e-e-c-h”. In response, Wegman concedes “Oh, well okay – I forgive you. But remember it next time.”

Spelling Lesson (released on “Selected Video Works 1970-78”)

Alphabet Soup (1995) [trailer]


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