Having taught aesthetics since 1993 I am accustomed to hearing about weird and even stupid things in the arts, so I was not even surprised when I saw a bit on cannibalism and art on the History Channel. I had heard about the artists before, but the show inspired me to write a bit about this.
The segment that made the greatest impression was that about Marco Evaristti. This fellow had his fat liposuctioned, turned into meatballs, canned and then served as part of a pasta dinner to fellow artists. The piece was called Polpette al grasso di Marco.
The intent of his work was to explore cannibalism from an artistic standpoint. My own view of the matter is that his approach was more sensationalist than substantive and did not really add much (or anything really) to the aesthetic and philosophical discussion of cannibalism. I am also inclined to regard what he did as not being art. After all, he simply had liposuction, had his fat made into meatballs and served a meal. As such, he was a patient, a purchaser of meat balls, a cook and a host-hardly the stuff of art.
While I have not had liposuction, I have been a patient, I have bought meat balls, I have cooked them and served them at a dinner.In a odd coincidence, I have even had a discussion over cannibalism over meatballs (which began as a discussion over the ethics of eating meat). On the face of it, none of this activities are artistic in nature and hence the burden of proof seems to rest on those who claim it is.
The main distinction between what I have done and what he did was to actually serve his own fat in the meal. While this does technically transform the meal from non-cannibalistic to cannibalistic, it is not clear that this results in an aesthetic transformation of the event. What needs to be shown is that adding such a content to a meal somehow transforms the event into art. After all, serving some beef meatballs to facilitate a discussion about eating meat hardly seems to transform the event into art. Likewise, adding some human fat to the meal does not seem to make that art either.
Interestingly, as I watched the clip showing the artists talking about cannibalism all I could think was this: “you might be talking like artistic intellectuals, but you just ate some guy’s ass fat.”
check me out: http://orangepacific.wordpress.com/
Bach, Handel, Mozart and others often cannibalized their own works and sometimes the works of others. Picasso chewed up the world around him and within him and spit it out in disconcerting shapes and colors. Warhol digested soup cans and created what is, arguably, art. A novelist might incorporate large segments of his own experience (unfortunately, sometimes it truly is the equivalent of assfat) into his novels.Perhaps Evaristti was just personalizing and making more concrete for those of us who are not artists the artistic process–that is maybe he’s not exploring cannibalism from an artistic standpoint but exploring art from a cannibalistic standpoint. A kind of fusion between performance and conceptual art. These people would argue that they’re artists-
Michael LaBossiere says
Bach, Handel, and Mozart produced works that required skill and gave us things of significance. This fellow gave the world meatballs made from his fat. Anyone with fat can do this-no real talent required.
Yes. And anyone can splatter paint on a canvas a la Jackson Pollock. People looking at any of Picasso’s abstract works like “Le Guitariste” or “Guernica” might assume that Picasso lacked the basic skills of a painter. They would be wrong. Some people think the works of Philip Glass are simplistic, child’s play. Glass has a considerable classical background. The fact that anyone can or thinks he can do something doesn’t mean that something isn’t art. But art it seems is like beauty. It’s in the eye of the beholder. Those who can get past the assfat might just clamor to become patrons of Sig. Evaristti. Others might consign his “oeuvre” to the same smelly bin where they’ve tossed “Piss Christ”.But Andres Serrano is making a good living and I doubt he’d give a -hit (he works in that medium too).
Michael LaBossiere says
Some argue that Pollack’s paintings are actually highly complex. They usually throw in some discussion about fractals when doing this. Picasso also created complex works in a skillful manner.
I admit that I do not have a complete theory of art-just a pile of theory chunks. In this, I am doing as well as anyone else. 🙂
It may be too simplistic an approach to overrate the role of complexity in art. On the other hand, it may be too complex an approach to overrate the role of simplicity in art.:) I love my thin crust pizza baked in a brick oven, with a minimal amount of barely sweetened tomato sauce, lots of buffalo mozzarella and some fresh basil. Other people praise Pizza Hut. I’ll eat both types (sans assfat please). I just looked up Evaristti in wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marco_Evaristt What do you think of the illustration that accompanies the article?