Chris Ofili’s Afrodizzia
1996 oil paint, paper collage, glitter, polyester resin, map pins and elephant dung on linen
if contemporary art’s ‘not your bag, baby’, then the saatchi gallery will not interest you. i have mixed feelings. on the one hand, you’ve got tracey emin’s my bed. it’s basically an exhibit consisting of her filthy, unmade bed with various detritus scattered around it (used condoms, maxi pads, dirty underwear, cigarette butts, etc).
don’t know if that should be called art.
on the other hand, there’s stuff like a pig or a cow sliced into 6 cross sections, dead things in formaldehyde (sharks!), and eerily lifelike tourists….that shit is plain cool.
i have a couple of stories from my visit there last weekend. as i walked into the lobby of the gallery, i saw a homeless man sitting slouched along a wall. i didn’t look again, in hopes of avoiding the inevitable donation request. the dude was sitting pretty near an exhibit i wanted to check out, so he was kind of hard to ignore. when i finished with the “vermin death star” piece (very cool: dead rat carcasses formed to shape the star wars death star, about 10 feet in diameter), i glanced over again.
no movement, but he seemed to be almost breathing.
i saw a descriptive plaque on the wall near him, but no art piece over there.
was this one of those famous contemporary art “white walls”? you know, the monocolor paintings that supposedly say deep things about life?
no, the plaque described a life-size homeless man.
(lightbulb goes on)
he was the art! he wasn’t real!
when art blurs the boundary between itself and reality, that’s interesting.
my other story about the visit was the sump oil exhibit. there was a guy holding up a sign adjacent to the entrance to the exhibit room notifying people to be cautious and that the gallery was not responsible for damage to persons (hair) or personal items (clothes). i just figured they were covering their asses and there was really not much to worry about, especially for an almost x-man like me. people were allowed to walk into and out of the room one at a time. in peaking in, i couldn’t get a grasp on what exactly it was. only later, when i got some perspective, did i realize that it was an entire room filled with used sump oil. the oil was right up to the edge of the walled walkway and it was black, which reflected the ceiling, and really threw me off. after i walked out to the closed end of the walkway and turned around, still baffled, the sign-holder ran up to me with a towel and told me i got oil on my jacket. i was confused. oil? from where? he blew across the liquid to make it ripple and only then did i get it. in turning around, my jacket tail must have rubbed up against the edge of the oil pool. needless to say, i’m suing the hell out of the bastards. who the hell fills a room with dirty oil and calls it art anyway?