June 19th, 2005

Illustmaker me

Modern art

Bar of Soap Sells for $18,000

First, may I take this opportunity to go, "EWWWWW!"?

Second, whether it's made of human fat from the prime minister of Italy or not, it's a bar of soap. Sitting on a piece of velvet, I'll grant, but a bar of frakking soap. If it had sold on Ebay as a curiosity, I'd roll my eyes and move on, but it sold at a high class art fair.

I do believe the quote attributed to P.T. Barnum is appropriate here--except that it appears with the growing population that more than one sucker is born every minute.

Soap-making is a lost art, I'll give you that. I wouldn't know how to take fat and make it into a bar of soap (at least not without checking The Forgotten Crafts, available at most major libraries). But it's also something people once did as a routine activity, not something that required any special talent. Using human fat isn't artistic, it's just tasteless (not to mention resembling people who I wouldn't think artists would want to resemble). And the bar of soap is just a slab. It's not carved, which would be tacky but at least require some artistic talent. It's not molded (again). It's just there.

I see lovely art every day on my f-list from people who could probably find uses for $18,000. Granted, it's not drawn with human byproducts (as far as I know), but it exhibits some discipline and talent. Of course, discipline and talent are apparently self-evidently unimportant next to the ability to be gross. I mean, I could draw a stick figure with a pencil, and it would rightly be thrown away. But if I went down to the sewers, dipped a stick in excrement, and drew exactly the same stick figure, it would suddenly be hugely creative? (I have other thoughts of what I could use for a medium, but I don't want to put the ideas out there, for fear of someone using them.)

Not.

People, you're getting hornswaggled.

Art world, get back to art, and leave the gross curiosities on Ebay, where they belong.