Tuesday, November 6, 2012

If It Ain't ART, Then What IS It?

An exercise machine with a penis - Jason Beca does it again. Ruffling feathers, that is!
The self-taught Kapiti artist's latest creation has now been removed from an exhibition at Porirua's Pataka Museum.
His piece, called Sex-a-size, is an abdominal machine with a wooden phallus attached. It was displayed with no warning that the exhibition was R18. Complainants were not so much offended by the exhibit, but more unimpressed with the lack of warning. Even the museum's GM Darcy Nicholas agrees: "I've been part of the arts scene for a long time, and every now and then, someone does something funny that you can laugh about. But this piece, I think, was far too graphic." He's had the sex-ercise machine removed. "It's not fair on the other artists for people to be distracted by a large wooden penis, which totally takes away from the quality of the other work."
Beca claims the gallery wanted a 'show-stopper', which is why he brought it in. But this is not the first time his work's been in the controversial news files: his Alice in Wonderful Land (a solid timber chair decorated by large laminated fake $100 bills, a video camera and two armrest monitors) was well discussed over connotations of eroticism and voyeurism.
Other work has included a Tardis time-travelling bed which folds down into a bed...and a lamp made out of a Barbie doll and a road-kill hawk. He attached the wings to the doll, replaced the doll's legs with the bird's claws, and now she sits in a bird cage and can be lit up!
But is this latest work actually art?
Art historian John Stringer thinks not. He points out that penises appear in art of all cultures and are not considered obscene, but "...it's about context. Beca's work is silly and provocative with little artistic merit. It is merely sexualised erotica.''
So there you have it! Would critics in 1504 have said the same about Michelangelo's David?

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