Is it art? 6 projects that'll make you wonder

Is it art? 6 projects that'll make you wonder

ArtMarch 23, 2014

Art, it’s weird by its very nature. When executed right, the weirdness does it justice, and you walk away with a new perspective on vaginal knitting or whatever performance piece you just sat through. But sometimes, the weird overwhelms itself, and we’re left dazed, confused and in some cases, nauseous at the the artist’s attempt to provoke or entice. These, dear friends, are a few such occasions.

“Fixation” by Pyotr Pavlensky

Russian conceptual artist Petr Pavlensky doesn't like Russia's police state, and he sure as hell doesn't like celebrating Police Day there. So, he did what any normal guy would do, and nailed his scrotum to the ground outside of Lenin’s mausoleum in protest. Ordinarily, this act of protest would seem like a singular act of weirdness, but this is a guy who's pulled similar stunts before. He sewed his mouth shut when Pussy Riot got arrested, wrapped his body in barbed wire, you know, that kind of thing. So it seems logical he'd eventually make his way down to his scrotum and show it the appropriate amount of wrath in the name of antigovernment sentiment. He described his sack­religious stunt by saying, "The performance can be seen as a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of contemporary Russian society." That’s nice, but at the end of the day, his balls are stuck to the ground and everyone knows he has a tiny wiener.

“Making Soap” by Oresetes de la Paz

If you’ve ever been lathering up in the shower and thought, “Hey, I’d really like it if this soap was made of human fat,” then great news: You’re not alone. Miami­based performance artist Orestes de la Paz had the same idea when he decided to make 20 bars of soap out of fat he had liposuctioned from his own body. Don’t worry, there’s some lavender oil in there, too. As a gay man, he wanted to use soap as a metaphor for his sexuality by turning something regarded as shameful or dirty and turning into something healthy, luxurious and healing. That part makes sense. What we’re not quite sold on is the desire to suck your own fat out and then wash yourself with it, but hey, we’re not all Marina Abramovics here. Naturally, each bar is only $1,000. Hannibal Lecter, this one’s for you.

“The Great Wall of Vagina” by Jamie McCartney

If you’re wondering what “The Great Wall of Vagina” is, well, it’s a great wall of vaginas. Spanning a whopping 30 feet, this polyptych by sculptor Jamie McCartney features the plaster casts of more than 400 vaginas, which is 398 more than you’ll probably ever see in your lifetime. McCartney spent five years creating plaster casts of every type of lady, from identical twins to transgender individuals to pre­and post­natal women to women who had undergone labiaplasties, all who were willing to let him slather their lady parts in plaster and jelly in the name of art. The purpose was to demonstrate the vast physical diversity of the female labia to quell women’s anxiety about the appearance of their genitalia, which is a noble cause. We support it with every fiber of our vaginas.

“Fresh Air” by Praxis & James Franco

The Museum of Non-­Visible Art is a mind fuck orchestrated by none other than professional little shit James Franco. And? It contains exactly zero art inside its hallowed walls. The only things to see in the museum are descriptions of hypothetical art that doesn’t exist anywhere else but the imagination of the artists. Basically, James Franco and company are making the statement that art is so subjective, it can be anything and nothing you want it to be. That’s cute, but that’s not even the weird part. One of these invisible pieces, “Fresh Air,” was actually sold for $10,000 to a woman who “identified with the ideology of the project.” And here’s the description of the art that convinced her: “The air you are purchasing is like buying an endless tank of oxygen. No matter where you are, you always have the ability to take a breath of the most delicious, clean­ smelling air that the earth can produce. Every breath you take gives you endless peace and health.” Maybe it’s just us, but we’re not sure that paragraph is worth $10,000. A mountain of cocaine or a sex change operation, sure, but an imaginary piece of art that you can imagine without spending a cent? Not so much. Well James Franco, we hope you’re happy. Not.

Toast Art by Maurice Bennet

If you have a gluten allergy, stop reading this and get back to eating your pretend bread. OK, good, they’re gone, which means we can get down to business. Have you ever looked at Barack Obama’s face and wanted to slather it in jelly and eat it? If you answered no to this question, you’ve clearly never seen Maurice Bennet’s giant Obama portrait that’s made entirely of toast. Obama doesn’t stand alone on a throne of crunchy bread; Bennet creates giant toast portraits of the rich and famous and comes up with his own unique toast designs, all of which are as impressively executed as they are tasty covered in peanut butter. To create color scales, he toasts the bread for varying lengths of time, resulting in a spectrum of mouthwatering whites, browns and blacks. Then, he slices and scrapes the bread into submission, shaping it into edible art that … sorry what were we talking about? We’re suddenly starving…

“Art School Stole My Virginity” by Clayton Pettet

We bet your virginity story has nothing on Clayton Pettet’s. He’s losing his precious v­card at school, in front of an audience of 100 people, as part of a performance piece ever­ so ­facetiously “Art School Stole My Virginity.” He’s been planning the performance since he was 16, but he chose this particular time in his life to become a man, explaining that he’s “held on to my virginity for 19 years, and I'm not throwing it away lightly. I have decided to use mine and the loss of it to create a piece that I think will stimulate debate." Yeah, we think it might stimulate a little more than debate … The controversial show will take place April 3 at Central Saint Martins Art School in England, but according to ol’ Clayton here, “no one knows the location of the piece or what’s actually going to happen.” Wow, OK. Word’s still out whether he’s doing it because he can’t get laid on his own or because he can’t get laid on his own.