Saturday, September 30, 2006

the abstraction of shit

The protean character of shit makes it both the perfect sculpting medium and the perfect subject of sculpture. In 2004, a Koreablog called Xeniteia posted this most sublime image, the blog author having noted that, among the various works of art on display, this one (and its clones) was "much less defaced than the other public sculptures":

...meanwhile, Robert at the Marmot's Hole recently posted a link to a Korea Times article featuring what I can only take to be the Western interpretation of same:

You would think that the Korean reverence for shit (a pervasive motif in Korean pop culture) would translate to a warm welcome for the above sculpture, but such is not the case. One problem is that the above shit was not shat by any Korean: it was produced by a filthy American named Claes Oldenburg (which, to the American ear, makes the man sound like someone from Fargo, North Dakota; even Americans trust no one from Fargo, especially after that Coen Brothers' film revealed the fascination some Fargans have with the synthesis of wood chippers and body parts). The Korea Times article says Oldenburg is one of the founders of the "pop art movement," a phrase I find hilarious because it contains the word "movement" and because "pop" is probably missing a second "o." Koreans are understandably miffed that an American was paid to take a public shit in the middle of downtown Seoul.

But let's talk art. On the assumption that we are witnessing a trend toward the abstraction of shit, I'm curious to see what the next iteration of the work will be. I'm imagining a candy-striped cone. That, too, will be abstracted as three colors are fused into one brownish color, and the cone shape is rendered into something even simpler, like a stick... which point the move to abstraction will have taken us full circle, because shit in its natural state can often appear as a stick.


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