Monday, June 1, 2009

Shock Art- Is it Really Art? Part II.

While the objective of Shock Art is attracting attention, you've got your meer attention-seekers, then you've got others that are actually trying to use art to gain attention to important causes.

My original intention with this topic was to break it down in different sections (hence, multiple parts) and let the reader decide for themselves. ("Art" cannot so simply be labeled and dictated as such by one person, for the masses.)

I was really wanting to write an informative piece on this and stay unbiased. But, after much research on this style, the artists, etc, I see now that it would be a never ending essay on the multi facets of this "art style".

So, from here on out, I will present this discussion in a biased Cliff Notes Format.

Dead/Stuffed/Pickled Animals-- Is it Art?
'Novocento' (1997)Maurizio Cattelan
Um... [I only pause, not because I'm debating the answer, but because... what the bleep is that?]

Damien Hirst
Is this art? It seems more like a weird farm version of the "Body Worlds" Exhibit, as opposed to art.
{*FUN FACT! -Criminal profilers say that most serial killers have a history of abusing, killing, or crucifying animals...}

Random Things Made Huge Then put in Public

Complex Shit by Paul McCarthy.
WHY? First, what's the point. I'm not shocked at all, just puzzled- looks like I killed your "shock" factor, McCarthy. Tell me your reasons, please. Is it an allegory for the economic state we are in? Is it the moral [digestive] "breakdown" of our society? (poop pun!) Or, does it stand for what your investors got when they funded this project? (a pocket full of .....) *I said this commentary would be semi-biased, right??
The hosting museum describes the show as containing “interweaving, diverse, not to say conflictive emphases and a broad spectrum of items to form a dynamic exchange of parallel and self-eclipsing spatial and temporal zones”.

Uh... yeah... what they said.

Nudity & Gender Bending

"One Balloon" by Pawel Althamer
On display at a Milan art show, it had ben dubbed by some as "one of the most controversial artworks ever displayed in Italy."
If you can't tell, it's a giant balloon made to look like a naked man...
[In other news, Macy's has formed a coalition with the Gay Pride Parade Planning Committee! Thanksgiving Day parades will never be the same!]
*As regards to the 'gender bending' mentioned above, just do any google search for 'shock art' and you will find your hordes of rabbis holding their exposed female breasts, and women who lack their womanliness...
At the end of the day, when all is said and done... I'm just TIRED of it.
Shock art is like washed up celebrities doing crazy things for publicity. Sure, there might be some artists out there whose work WILL have an influence on important issues- things that the public just HAS to have illustrated for them in a graphic way. Others are just like a rebellious teenager that dyes their hair blue or pierces their tongue to outrage their parents.
And, with kids like that, sometimes it's better to ignore them, because all they want is to get a reaction out of you...
As a last thought, I am reminded of the words of Gina from the movie Empire Records:
"Shock me, shock me, shock me, with that deviant behavior!"


  1. Personally, "shock art" is not my cup of tea. If you like it, great, I have no problem with that, like I said, it's just not for me. I have to agree with you on Damien Hirst's work. The shock has long worn off, but other people still blab about it being so crazy. I don't really know what to think of it.

    He comes up with the concepts himself, but he doesn't actually do them himself. He hires other people to do the dirty work then comes back and does some finishing touches, etc. It looks more like a weird science exhibit, not an art museum display.

  2. Oh yeah, and I actually looked up the inflatable poop. funny news story here:

    From AFP:

    “GENEVA (AFP) — A giant inflatable dog turd by American artist Paul McCarthy blew away from an exhibition in the garden of a Swiss museum, bringing down a power line and breaking a greenhouse window before it landed again, the museum said Monday.

    The art work, titled “Complex Shit”, is the size of a house. The wind carried it 200 metres (yards) from the Paul Klee Centre in Berne before it fell back to Earth in the grounds of a children’s home, said museum director Juri Steiner.

    The inflatable turd broke the window at the children’s home when it blew away on the night of July 31, Steiner said. The art work has a safety system which normally makes it deflate when there is a storm, but this did not work when it blew away.

    Steiner said McCarthy had not yet been contacted and the museum was not sure if the piece would be put back on display.”

  3. I agree, this stuff is wearing very thin. I suspect it's all about museum curators wanting to maximise visitor numbers.