Sunday, August 14, 2005

Corpse-Shilling Art

An art museum in the Swiss capital Bern has removed a piece by Chinese artist Xiao Yu that consists of... hmmm, okay, well the head of a human foetus glued to the body of a bird. A seagull, to be specific. Basically, the sort of thing you might see in the backroom of a carnival, but there sculpted out of plasticine. The artist has said: "The bird and the foetus both died because there was something wrong with them. I put them together as if to allow them to have another life."

The journalist and politician who complained about the piece of art said: "we owe a minimum amount of respect to the dead".

I've never agreed with those people who say, "Well, it's only art." Art changes the viewer; great Art changes the way we see things and leaves it's mark on our neuralphysiology. You cannot see the world the same way after experiencing it. This sort of necrophilic Art that has been in the art world for some time is, of course, shocking, but only for the lack of human emotion that went into it. J.G.Ballard has compared it to wearing swim trunks to a funeral. I believe that true Art is created in states of emotional and psychological detatchment- of heightened awareness. The same with gnostic religious texts. To me, necrophilic Art reveals a sort of grim obsession with death, sure, but perhaps mostly as a way of trashing an art world that now requires the artist to think first and foremost about profit, an srt world that short-circuits the gnostic process. Art needs emotion and heightened surrealism to survive, or it turns to corpse-cannibalizing momento mori that mark the passing of affect. I think these pieces are intended to be bad Art, to be grotesque schlock.
Is something wrong with culture?
Has it been so devalued by money that it cannot survive as it was?
Why can't artworks be religious items again?
Why can't artists resist the commodification of art through ludic beauty?

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