Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hybrid Art Can Do Lots of Shit

Anyone who leaves a comment using this art work as a metaphor for any area of poetic, artistic, or cultural production will be considered pathetically obvious. So you better be funny about it.


from the article “Hybrid Art Awards” by Regine:

An award of distinction in the category of Hybrid Art was given to Wim Delvoye for the ultra-famous Cloaca, an installation that gulps food and mechanically processes and produces what is —even under scientific examination—impossible to differentiate from human excrement.


from the article “A Human Masterpiece”
by Els Fiers

Cloaca, the latest work by the Belgian conceptualist Wim Delvoye (b. 1965), has just closed out its run at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MuHKA) in Antwerp. It was a room-sized installation of six glass containers connected to each other with wires, tubes and pumps. Every day, the machine received a certain amount of food.

Meat, fish, vegetables and pastries passed through a giant blender, were mixed with water, and poured into jars filled with acids and enzyme liquids. There they got the same treatment as the human stomach would supply. Electronic and mechanical units controlled the process, and after almost two days the food came out of a filtering unit as something close to genuine, human shit.

During the exhibition, the smelly assembly line caused quite some consternation. It seemed to bring an infernal message into the world. There is enough dung as it is. Why make more?

Worse, the installation was placed in a cold, clean space at the museum, where it was nourished by a first class chef who prepared two meals a day in an attached kitchen. The atmosphere suggested a hospital equipped for a strange experiment -- the birth and care of a machine that eats and defecates -- a mechanical baby. "Hi," it seemed to say, "I'm almost like you."

Delvoye's work doesn't resemble the human body, though perhaps it could be called a figurative work. But visitors walked out with a strange look on their faces, as if they'd just paid a visit to the devil. Cheeks turn a little pale as art, the beautiful image of humanity, turned into the making of stool.

Delvoye has given a name to his harsh creature: Cloaca, referring to the ancient sewer in Rome. But while the cloaca maxima proved to be useful, this Cloaca goes beyond every purpose, except of course revealing of the meaning of art. So, too, the spending and earning of money is part of its purpose. The machine daily delivered turds that were signed and sold for $1,000 each.

Absurd? "Imagine a very rich man who plays golf," Delvoye said. "He spends a massive amount of time and money for just one purpose: to put a little ball into a hole. Isn't that absurd?"


Anonymous said...

The big shortfall, as far as I can tell, is that this hybrid art does not produce the realistic range of shits that a normal person experiences, say, in a week's time. Sure, we all evacuate the plump, fluffy turds, but what of a "loose stool" or even a hybrid dump? This hybrid art did not make hybrid dumps. No, a very cold, technical shit did it produce -- and all without the purple flashes, the screams of joy or despair ("...like never before!!!..."), or the agonizing wait aboard a crippled subway train, for example, whilst the bowels proposed to move. No, this is the problem with Modern Art -- it doesn't know shit. Like a pitcher with only one pitch -- a deuce. As if each shit came along right on schedule, too. NOT! What if that machine had to take the redeye from Brussels to Ankara, huh? Let's see it try to take a shit, then! And it follows that Belgians, of all people, would line up to pay $1,000 (770 EURO) for some artificial feces. Next: a machine that would wipe the other machine's butt. Only in Brussels. Where you can polish off a fruity ale, take in some modern art, and empty out your bank account for an "arty-feceal" hunk of crap. Je ne salute pas, au fruits de terre. -------------------------------------------BA

Nada said...

My comment isn't funny but it isn't not funny, either. I saw this piece several years ago at the Museum of Contemporary Art when it was still on Broadway.

There was something incredibly endearing about it... like a pet... or a baby!

Don Zirilli said...

Far more frightening would be a machine that sits in a coffee shop and turns each customer into a poem.

Don Zirilli said...

p.s. the reason my comment is funny is because:

1) coffee is a laxative
2) Starbucks 5uxx0r
3) I write poems in the can