Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Body Art - Shock - Cultural and Celebrity Worship

I'd like to reflect and expand on Piero Manzoni's 1961 piece in which he canned 91 cans of feces. A label on each identified the contents as "Artist's Shit", contents 30gr net freshly preserved and 'made in Italy'. He said "If collectors want something intimate, really personal to the artist, there's the artist's own shit, that is really his." Manzoni's actions were "affirmation of the body itself as a valid art material" (Thames & Hudson, pg. 147) It's not known how many cans were sold but his decision to value his excrement on a par with the price of gold made clear reference to the tradition of the artist as alchemist already forged by Marcel Duchamp and Yves Klein among others. As the artist and critic Jon Thompson has written:
Manzoni's critical and metaphorical reification of the artist's body, its processes and products, pointed the way towards an understanding of the persona of the artist and the product of the artist's body as a consumable object. The artist's shit, dried naturally and canned 'with no added preservatives', was the perfect metaphor for the bodied and disembodied nature of artistic labor: the work of art as fully incorporated raw material, and its violent expulsion as commodity. Manzoni understood the creative act as part of the cycle of consumption: as a constant reprocessing, packaging, marketing, consuming, reprocessing, packaging, ad infinitum.
Artist's Shit was made at a time when Manzoni was producing a variety of works involving the fetishization and commodification of his own body substances. These included marking eggs with his thumbprints before eating them, and selling balloons filled with his own breath.

Recently I've come across other artists that have used the body in similarly shocking ways:

"Milk that may appear by smell to be perfectly consumable (even organic), can contain contaminants such as suspended particles, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and fungi.Through extensive recruitment within the upper echelons of society, we deliver the finest milk purified in a way only we can. Our secret ingredient is in the process through which rich, beautiful, white girls gargle your milk to absolute perfection. It's her touch that sets us far above the rest. Each of the carefully selected girls offer subtle differences of background, yet what they share is most important. All are waiting to clean your milk with their mouths. That is our promise to you!"

This is a real website where you can buy 1/2 oz of milk gargled for 10 seconds by a white woman for $100.00 or 2 oz gargled for $200.00. You can choose between 6 different white women, each of whom have a profile describing their background. You can also choose to buy the video of them gargling your milk.

Any Google Image search (with SafeSearch off) will reveal more images of this type than you could imagine. The only difference between the images used in porn and “White Power Milk” is the perspective and angle of the photos. Most pornographic shots of women gargling cum are from above, mimicking the viewpoint of a man or men who have just received a blowjob and discharged into her mouth. Hill has shifted the perspective lower so that the women look less submissive but still on display.

“Some people who feel they are at a disadvantage in America because of their race (black people, for example) can get a get a sense of power in the world from having a white woman. They got a piece of the pie, so to speak. I named it “White Power Milk” because I’m selling people that access to white girls from powerful families. Those are the hardest white girls to get access to. They are the powerful.

It’s about the power that white women have over people’s minds. Some people think white girls are better than other races. They think they’re better at sex, more loyal, more polite, more compliant, bring less drama, or whatever. I put some examples of this kind of thinking in these tweets I’ve posted on Young Manhattanite.

Nate Hill is good at pushing buttons and you can tell he likes it, maybe even gets off on it. All his projects poke holes into people’s ideas of comfort and force them to negotiate how far they are willing to go. Whether he is getting strangers to sit on his lap as part of “Free Bouncy Rides” (2009), inviting people to get out their physical frustration on a cute animal in “Punch Me Panda” (2010), posing in photos wearing white women as scarves ["for status and power"] in "Trophy Scarf" (2013), there was always an element in his performance that left many people — particularly non-art participants — puzzled but always amused.

further down the rabbit hole...

"BitLabs grows meat from celebrity tissue samples and uses it to make artisanal salami. It all starts with your favorite celebrities, and a quick biopsy to obtain tissue samples. Isolating muscle stem cells, we grow celebrity meat in our proprietary bioreactors. In the tradition of Italian cured meats, we dry, age, and spice our product into fine charcuterie."

Martin, the CEO of bite labs said in an interview with TIME that the company “want[s] to prompt widespread discussion about bioethics, lab-grown meats, and celebrity culture – this is very important to us.”

This level of celebrity worship is kind of scary to me but definitely absurd and possible in this age.
The website sells it as the Eco-friendly and healthy future of meat.
What do you think about it? What do you think about using the body itself as art material?

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