Volume I, Number 4, Summer 2005

 

SELF ABUSE/BODY USE AS ART

Once more we look at some of the reasons why the public finds the fine art world a subject of derision and many artists don't get any respect. This article shows how human beings use and abuse their own and other's bodies for the sake of "art" and/or just attracting attention.

Here are some more snippets from "News of the Weird" by Chuck Shepard. He collects news items from around the world. Many of the items he has published in his syndicated column are about art, usually under the heading of Great Art!

"The Pain of Performance Art: The annual 'Fierce!' festival in London in May featured Mr. 'Franco B' lightly slicing up his abdomen and keeping the wounds open for six hours, inviting patrons to observe the blood in order to 'reexamine their own notions of what's beautiful and what's suffering."

"And in May, the Artspace gallery in Sydney, Australia, featured artist Mike Parr having his own arm nailed to a wall, for 36 hours, to show 'the possibility of conflating the body.' And performance artist Pierre Pinoncelli chopped off a pinky finger in June at a festival in Cali, Columbia, to symbolize the nation's loss after a popular politician was recently kidnapped by the revolutionary group FARC."

"In February, an exhibition opened in Berlin, featuring about 200 unatrophied body parts and skinless corpses, dismembered in various designs and gaudily displayed with super-preservatives to highlight what developer Gunther von Hagens says is every last sinew, cell and vein, and to show 'the beautiful interior of the body.' Among the most startling pieces from this 'Body Worlds' 'plastination'-process exhibit; a five months-pregnant woman whose cross-sectioned abdomen reveals a curled-up fetus and dark smokers lungs."

"Cincinnati photographer Thomas Condon, 29, was indicted in February (along with a deputy coroner) on corpse-abuse charges, following the revelation by a film-processing firm that Condon had photographed morgue corpses oddly posed and holding such things as a syringe, sheet music and an apple. Said a man familiar with Condon's art,'(This work) is insensitive to the family members (b)ut from an art perspective, there is precedent for it."

"Also in February BBC News profile touted Madras, India, artist Shihan Hussaini's dedication to using blood to paint 50 portraits of his hero, a Tamil Nadu state official named Jayalalitha. At one point, Hussaini was drawing so much of his own blood that he had to hire a nurse"

"Featured at the Donn Roll Contemporary Museum in Sarasota, Fla., in 1996 was Ms. Charon Luebbers' Menstrual Hut, a 6-by-6-by-5-foot isolation booth to symbolize the loneliness that society has forced upon menstruating women. Accompanying it were 28 canvasses created by Luebbers' pressing her face into whatever discharge was present in each of the 28 days of her cycle for one month, to show the contrast."


"New York artist Chrissy Conant, 39, will display 13 of her reproductive eggs, floating in silicone, at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Conn., in may, in an exhibit addressing the pressures that women feel when their biological clocks are ticking down. Conant said in an interview that, in fact, she was actively seeking a man: 'Consider me for consumption and consider my eggs, because I think they're pretty good."

"For 12 days in November, Yugoslav performance artist Marina Abramovic, 56, confined herself to three raised desks at a New York City gallery, where she denied herself all external simulation (except being stared at by visitors), subsisting on water, and carrying on all bodily functions in full public view, in order to heighten her senses so that, she said, she and the audience could efficiently transmit energy between the,. (Previously, for the same purpose, she and a partner sat at ends of a long table for seven hours, not moving and trying not even to blink.)"

"Toronto, Ontario, artist Jason Kronwald, 29, creates claylike portraits of celebrities, but using hundreds of pieces of used chewing gum instead of clay, according to a march profile by Reuters news service. HE said he doesn't chew, himself, but buys gum and asks his friends to chew it. 'I'm not into picking it off seats in the theater, I like the gum to be mine.' His 'Gum Blondes' series includes Britney Spears and Pamela Anderson."

"In November at the Tate Britain gallery, sculptor Antony Gormley presented 'Bed,' a pile of 8,000 slices of bread arranged to resemble a large mattress but from which Gormley had first eaten an amount out of it that represented the volume of his body. Apparently Gormley did not devour the bread so much as chew it and then remove it and form different-shaped pieces, which he then dried out, chemically preserved, and displayed. The Tate Britain was so thrilled with the installation that is became the centerpiece in a room devoted to Gormley's lifetime body of work.)"

"In 1992, News of the Weird reported that artist Janine Antoni carved huge blocks of chocolate and lard using her teeth, but at New York City's 'LMAKprojects' gallery in February, artist Emily Katrencik gnawed sections of the drywall separating the gallery's exhibition space from the director's office, for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Katrencik said she concentrates in thinking of 'the things in the wall that are good for me, like calcium and iron.' But, she said,' I prefer cast concrete because it has a more metallic flavor.'"

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