Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Real, Literal or Art?

Thanks to L.M. for inspiring this post today!

Meat Dress by Jana Sterbak, 1991.
A sculpture of a dress made of raw meat, hanging at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, has outraged politicians and food-aid agencies. The sculpture, made of 50 pounds of salted flank steak, is a waste of food and taxpayers' money, critics say. But museum curators defend the work, "Vanitas," as a graphic reminder of mortality and the aging process.
"It's a powerful piece," Helen Murphy, a museum spokeswoman, said yesterday. "It can be quite repugnant, even to people who eat meat. People just aren't prepared in some cases to say this is art." (From Snopes.com,and a 1991 article)

The meat dress by Montreal artist Jana Sterbak is on a hanger beside a photo of a woman wearing it. When the meat decomposes after six weeks, it will be replaced with another $260 worth of fresh meat. "Vanitas," on display since March 8, will remain until May 20 before traveling to the United States and Europe.


Thawing Out, sculpture by Mark Prent. 1972.
The fourth Prent piece at 106U, a large-format, highly crafted photo print of 1972’s “Thawing Out,” is of particular resonance. It was originally produced to raise legal-defence funds for Avrom Isaacs, the Toronto gallery owner whose exhibit of Prent’s work led to criminal charges of—get this—“exhibiting a disgusting object.”

“That’s all open to interpretation,” laughs Prent. “Eventually, that was thrown out of court, but at that particular point, Isaacs didn’t know how he was going to raise money to defend the case. In the end, the Art Dealers Association came to the rescue and hired a lawyer themselves. They said, this is going to be a bad precedent—never mind for Mark Prent or the gallery, it could be the end of all kinds of freedom of expression for artists in Canada.”



Meat Dress
Review of Mark Prent Exhibit

4 comments:

Wandering Coyote said...

I heard of the meat dress, though long after the fact. People were still talking about it 7 years later. This is the first image I've seen of it. Quite fascinating, really, but a little gross, too. I'm not sure how this is "art". That museum in Ottawa is used to a lot of controversial stuff. I remember when they got that gigantic Maman spider thingy. Ugh.

Candy Minx said...

Well it is a good line of questioning...is that meat dres art? It's fairly literal...and I wonder if that might make it a weaker image? The thing is people really talk about i an think about it...

...are women just like meat in the world?

...is fashion something we consume?

...our flesh will ro someday?

What I like about Mark Prent and why I juztaposed him here with the dress...is he asks the same questions but he builds his images from scratch.

Wylie Kinson said...

I doubt my personal taste in art would have me running to view the meat dress! But as many would view it as such, I say bravo for making a bold statement.
And in the end, the really good stuff is always a tad controversial, no?
I mean, they painted clothes on the nekkid people in the Sistine Chapel (so sad)

LE GAY SAVOIR said...

l'apologie de l,horreur >Candy. Art Juif dégénéré.
pas toi § tu m es sympathique.