Sunday, December 16, 2007

Shitty Art

Santiago Sierra, an artist whose works make use of pollution and toxic materials, has a new show featuring megaliths of human excrement

Elena Crippa, the curator of the London gallery displaying the works, said Sierra’s intention is to confront audiences with the horror faced by scavengers, the so-called untouchables who traditionally clean private toilets and outhouses in India.

The Chicago Sun Times comments:

Art from excrement has a long pedigree. In 1961, Italian Piero Manzoni produced 90 cans of ‘‘Artist’s (Poo),’’ each labeled as containing one ounce of ‘‘freshly preserved’’ material. In 1999, British artist Chris Ofili’s rendition of the Virgin Mary on a canvas spattered with elephant dung brought protest when it went on display with other sensational works at The Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York.

Sierra’s work is on a different scale. His 21 dark, crackled (and odorless) monuments are lined up like headstones. Although their power seems muted in the gallery’s harsh white space, visitors interviewed still seemed impressed, if not exactly shocked, by his choice of material.

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