August 22, 2008

Art Historians of the Future: The Artwork is Complex Shit

The artist Paul McCarthy—subject of an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art through October 12—recently created a giant inflatable pile of shit kept on the grass at Switzerland's Zentrum Paul Klee. Earlier this month, this giant inflatable pile of shit escaped from the museum, knocked down a power line, and damaged a window before authorities were able to subdue it.

I first got wind of this remarkable tale thanks to Ryan Tate/Gawker and this August 11 item, "Flying piece of art causes museum chaos in Switzerland," brought to us courtesy of Agence France-Presse (AFP)/Google:

A giant inflatable dog turd by American artist Paul McCarthy blew away from an exhibition in the garden of a Swiss museum, bringing down a power line and breaking a greenhouse window before it landed again, the museum said Monday.

The art work, titled "Complex S(expletive..)", is the size of a house. The wind carried it 200 metres (yards) from the Paul Klee Centre in Berne before it fell back to Earth in the grounds of a children's home, said museum director Juri Steiner.

The inflatable turd broke the window at the children's home when it blew away on the night of July 31, Steiner said. The art work has a safety system which normally makes it deflate when there is a storm, but this did not work when it blew away.

Steiner said McCarthy had not yet been contacted and the museum was not sure if the piece would be put back on display.

Please note that while AFP/Google is apparently comfortable with the word four-letter word "turd," it appears to be so very uncomfortable with the title of this "piece of art" that it substituted the title Complex S(expletive..) for the actual title, Complex Shit. The editing remains so botched that it's arguably difficult to figure that out without going outside the text.

Now I'm curious as to whether McCarthy will try something similar with an inflatable phallus floating toward a giant donut wheeling down a roadway. AFP/Google can try to protect the world by dubbing it Flying F(expletive..) at a Rolling Donut but the rest of us will know better. At least that's what I'd like to think.

Posted by David F


The inadvertant coinage of "Sexpletive" makes the thing sound more complex and enticing than it is.

BTW, though, your last link needs repairing.

Dynamic Complex Shit is the full title of the work. Its movement (no pun intended) was entirely planned. Dynamic Complex Shit was performed in the evening, no classes in session, to avoid shocking the children. Please note that Paul is aware of studies that show a correlation of inflatable shit hitting a building (especially a building occupied by children), with resulting emotional trauma. Paul is very sensitive to the emotional well being of children. After all, children are the future of feces art.

Thanks, Vance. You're right about "S(expletive)"--it's one of the things that makes it more confusing than typical textual "bleeping."

I checked the link issue and brought it to the attention of the proper authority, so perhaps it'll be corrected soon. In the meantime, anyone who Googles the article title can see that it turned up in lots of places, with some variations.

My sources tell me the next installation is a performance piece in the Macy's parade below the underdog float.

Seriously though, the real genius in this stuff is the ability to write the grant that gives you funding to build inflatable shit. Truly this species is doomed to extinction as a result of excessive self absorption.

"hit" is an expletive? Who knew?

Post a comment

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2