If Richard Serra Worked in Shit, Say
January 7, 2019 11:40 AM   Subscribe

(SLNYT) There were four giant turds inside the 16,000 square feet of museum space. One mammoth piece of feces was reminiscent of a long, winding steel sculpture by Richard Serra. One was a brown spiral. Another resembled an enormous chocolate chip. Yet another featured intertwined layers with a gap in between that I could have crawled through, if I had been brave enough. All four sculptures of fecal matter sat on elegant Persian rugs, like welcome-home gifts left by a huge, vengeful dog.

The exhibition, “Gelatin: Vorm — Fellows — Attitude,” at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands ... is the latest work by Gelatin (also sometimes spelled Gelitin), a Vienna-based art collective known for breaking taboos, evoking nervous laughter, and getting intimate with bodies and their excretions. … Gelatin’s work is often raw, brutal and absurd, and often intentionally, but playfully, repellent. The artists have made a “human birthday cake” in which they arranged themselves naked in a circle, with lit candles coming out of their anuses. In 2000, they illegally broke into the World Trade Center and installed a small balcony on the 91st floor (a stunt that lasted a mere 19 minutes or so). In 2005, their projects included a sculpture made from frozen urine and a 180-foot pink toy bunny, which they left to decompose on the side of a mountain in the Italian Alps.

Gelatin’s exhibit was crafted out of clay. Other artists choose literal shit as their medium. The street artist KATSU, for example, says he crafted his own feces into a portrait of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

As VICE explains:
There's a history of people using human waste in art. The first contemporary artist to work with feces was Piero Manzoni, who in 1961, he canned his turds (allegedly) and labeled the finished product "artist's shit." That power move inspired a lot of transgressive pieces that took on powerful figures, with Piss Christ, the crucifix photo submerged in artists Andres Serrano's urine, probably being the most famous. More recently, an artist named Fox Bronte created an image of Justin Bieber using various peoples' pubes . People have also adorned their work with elephant and bird turds but until KATSU, there hasn't really been well-known case of an artist painting with his or her own poop, something he calls an "overlooked resource" that he's wanted to work with.

Not all artists working in poop aspire making history. Some of them simply want to make a profit. One of them is Mary Winchenbach, a "moose-turd artist" in Maine who became popular on social media in the autumn of 2018.

Since a video of Mary Winchenbach peddling her moose-turd art at the Common Ground Fair went viral three weeks ago, Winchenbach and her homespun wares have been featured on television and radio across the country and as far away as Ireland. The video of Winchenbach has been viewed more than 3.3 million times since it was posted Sept. 21 on Facebook. And now she is struggling to keep up with more than 2,000 orders for the moose-turd art through her business, Tirdy Works.

Just days after the fair, Winchenbach took a two-week leave of absence from her job at a seaweed plant to keep up with orders. She hired a lawyer to help navigate her growing business, and hired her sister-in-law, Rachel Morse, to manage the website and interviews.

On Friday, Winchenbach quit her job at Ocean Organics to devote herself to the turds full time. “An opportunity like this comes along once in a lifetime,” said Winchenbach, 57. “I’ve worked my whole life. If I fail at this, I’ll find work. I just have to give this a shot.”

It ain't art, exactly, but a different entrepreneur is busy selling moose poop incense. If that particular form of artistic poop utilisation fails, researchers suggest that excrement and urine might be put to potentially loftier use sometime in the future.
posted by Bella Donna (20 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I prefer vintage.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

For once there is some truth in the saying "my kid could do that," albeit on a much smaller scale.
posted by TedW at 12:08 PM on January 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

When the poop-as-art moment comes, you either shit or get off the pot (of gold).
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2019

Needs more CLOACA.
posted by rikschell at 12:23 PM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I thought Bella Donna was taking a break from the megathread to avoid wallowing in shit for awhile, but boy was I wrong.
posted by St. Oops at 12:30 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

is this the right place to make a Brint Moltke reference
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:35 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

moose-turd art

"...It's good, though."
posted by doubtfulpalace at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

It ain't art, exactly, but a different entrepreneur is busy selling moose poop incense:

Jerry Black's picky about poo.

He's tromping through waist-high grass in a Swan Valley meadow searching for moose poop. But the ungulates are uncooperative on this outing and all he's finding are deer droppings and bear scat.

In which a local reporter carefully selects a bat, takes a practice swing on the lede, and knocks her second paragraph out of the park.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

They tend to use two powerful tools: humor and simplification

two powerful stools, amirite?
posted by chavenet at 1:22 PM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Did someone mention gold?
posted by Bella Donna at 1:34 PM on January 7, 2019

butts lol
posted by Melismata at 1:52 PM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

An impressive number of posts with the "poop" tag. Wordshore's Mystery Prize for Best Poop Post is a hot ticket item!
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 1:54 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

At long last my mind is in the gutter for a good reason!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Looks like a scaled-up version of the crappy Beuys at Mass MoCA.
posted by ook at 2:06 PM on January 7, 2019

Wizards would have just used a vanishing charm.
posted by praemunire at 2:47 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I prefer vintage.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:55 AM on January 7 [1 favorite +] [!]

Artist in studio.

Also, at the #bottom-of-content on the Salvator Mundi page it amusingly reads:

If Richard Serra Worked in Shit, Say | "oh, hello."
posted by St. Oops at 11:41 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I was twelve and living up north, my best friend and I used to collect dried moose poops, shellac them, and make moose poop necklaces and earrings.

Typing that out, I am only just now realizing how weird it was.
posted by Lizard at 7:10 AM on January 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

On the contrary, Lizard. The links I have posted plus others I have seen suggest that while uncommon, your behaviour was hardly weird. Did you give them to friends or sell them? Super curious about what prompted the jewellery making.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:52 AM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Gelatin earned themselves a permanent place in the 9/11 conspiracy canon with that little WTC stunt.
posted by adecusatis at 8:53 AM on January 8, 2019

Bella Donna - we wore them and sold some at our church's craft sale. We also put lollipop sticks in some of them, wrapped them in cellophane and sold them as 'Moose Pops' - our moms made us put little 'Novelty Only' stickers on them though.
posted by Lizard at 2:00 AM on January 9, 2019

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