A Minor Footnote In History

Thanks to the prevailing postmodern idiocy that rules the world of art, I sometimes hesitate to tell people that I’m an artist. What might they think? That I create paintings like “performance artist”, Keith Boadwee, who squats over his canvases and “paints” by emptying his bowels of egg tempura enemas? In 1995, Ace Contemporary Exhibitions of Los Angeles presented a series of 50 such paintings by Boadwee, which included a video documentation of the process as part of the exhibit. In addition, Boadwee employed projectile vomiting of tempura paint to create his artworks. He was also graced with an exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), not for his enema paintings, but for his self-portraits. The MOCA exhibit consisted of stylized pictures of Boadwee’s anus in multiple colors from which various objects protruded. I don’t mean to pick on Boadwee, I have no personal animosity towards him. I mention him only because his example abundantly illustrates the sham that is modern art. A hand in glove relationship between snobbish art critics, morally impoverished collectors and intellectually corrupt museum and gallery staff, have not just assured such garbage a place in the art world - they have transformed the rubbish into a new standard of excellence.

In steps the latest postmodernist outrage. The aforementioned high and mighty effete critics have lately been touting the young “rebels” of the contemporary Chinese art scene. These “hot” new artists are being feted by museums and galleries across the world, and snatched up left and right by avaricious collectors. One such discerning fellow is Uli Sigg, a multi-millionaire businessman and former Swiss diplomat who has amassed what some have called “an unrivalled range of contemporary Chinese art.” Sigg purchased an “artwork” by Xiao Yu several years ago at the Venice Biennale, and recently loaned the coveted masterwork to the Bern Museum of Fine Art in Switzerland. It is one of three hundred or so works from Sigg’s personal collection to be presented at the Bern in an exhibit of contemporary Chinese art running until October 16th, 2005.

The Bern Museum, Mr. Sigg, and the fawning art critics were apparently flabbergasted when Xiao Yu’s “artwork” was met by howls of outrage from angry museum goers. A flood of calls from incensed patrons shocked the Bern, but it was the threat of legal action that sent them scattering. A 29-year-old Swiss visitor to the exhibit filed a complaint with the authorities against the museum for “disturbing the peace of the dead.” The furious uproar combined with the possibility of a court case, caused the museum to remove the offending “artwork” from the exhibition. Bernard Fibicher, curator at the Bern, released a short statement that in part read, “We have decided to withdraw this work from the exhibition because we are no longer able to handle the amount of interest it is generating.”

What caused so much controversy? Xiao Yu had sewn the head of a human fetus to the headless body of a dead seagull - placing the monstrosity into a clear viewing container filled with formaldehyde. The museum catalog thoughtfully explained the work of genius was meant to “provoke the viewer into reflecting on the absurdity of life.” In actually it only provoked viewers to reflect upon the absurdity and utter madness of the contemporary art world - where the most vulgar and boorish acts of self-promotion, or the most outlandish eyesores will be elevated to fine art. There are some art critics who will defend this twisted taxidermy from a demented individual, but their days are numbered. The ossified art establishment is crumbling, and soon its jesters and speculators will become a minor footnote in history.

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