Monday, July 07, 2008

Enema in Bronze, With Angels

That great golden shape borne by cherubs is a tool for administering an enema. According to the Associated Press, the bulb was immortalized in 800 pounds of bronze by the Mashuk-Akva Term spa in the Russian city of Zheleznovodsk.

While the sculptor, Svetlana Avakina, said she designed the piece with "irony and humor," the spa's director takes it a bit more seriously. Alexander Kharchenko told the AP: "There is no kitsch or obscenity, it is a successful work of art. An enema is almost a symbol of our region."

The $42,000 sculptor bears the motto, "Let's beat constipation and sloppiness with enemas," which references a Soviet comedy called The Twelves Chairs.

It's hard to add anything to this at first. What can you say? It's bizarre. But it's made less bizarre by the sculptor's admission of striving for irony and humor. I've pondered this damn thing and wound up at a loss for words for days. Is it even worth commenting on? Can't anyone with a budget for a commission make an artistic oddity as a publicity stunt?

The American sculptor Daniel Edwards has made a modest career out of the "shocking theme sculpture," appalling the media and the American public with life-sized pieces like "Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston" and "Paris Hilton Autopsy" but then losing our attention by the time he came up with "Suri's bronzed baby poop" and "Oprah's Sarcophagus."

It's just too much flash with no substance. The implicit commentary in these celebrity sculptures is so sophomoric that it's clear the goal is not the commentary, but the attention. Why bother?

In the absence of a better back-story for the Avakina sculpture, the same is true. It's good for a quick laugh, and then we forget about it.

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