Monday, March 23, 2009

Alexander Brener: Shittiest. Artist. Ever.

"Inter faecum et urinam natus est" (image via jludmila)

If you have read this blog with any regularity over the years you know that one of our bete noirs are "stunt art." Nothing suggests a lack of talent more than these so-called artists that garner publicity -- via using titillation, body fluids or aggressively contrarian political statements -- and jack up their status in the surfacy art world where, more and more often, epater le bourgoisie is a more important principle than an inquiry into the nature of Being.

Talented people don't have to shout, fuck onstage, slice themselves, threaten the President or submerge the crucifix in urine. Self-publicists in a hurry do; artists don't.

There is a subtlety and patience to the irony of Art -- communicating one's personal vision -- whether using language or oils or glass or bronze or, of late, electronic media. Impatience, crass loudness, naked ambition, the desire to speed up Time -- these fuel the fevered imaginings of The Stunt Artist, the Perez Hilton (Averted Gaze).

And they work in all manner of media. Damien Hirst works with diamonds and rotting animal corpses (how meaningful). Alexander Brener works in .. feces. But they are both essentially the same species of fraud. From Artnet:

"Who is the most -- shall we say 'execrable?' -- man in the London art world? One willing candidate is Russian artist Alexander Brener, known for guerrilla stunts in which he defecates in art galleries. Brener, who was born in Kazakhstan in 1957, interrupted a panel on 'Extreme Curating' at the ICA last September by pooping in his own hand and offering it to the panelists, while he was ejected from Gagosian Gallery’s London outpost this February by security guards before he could drop trou. Earlier in his career, Brener spray-painted a green dollar sign on a Kazimir Malevich painting of a white cross at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. Most recently, he caused a stink at an opening at The Approach W1, shitting in his hand and smearing the word 'Sold Out' on the window in excrement, much to the consternation of gallery owner Jake Miller.

"The London art world has largely dealt with Brener by ignoring his antics, denying him any publicity. At the same time, the artist’s all-consuming dislike for commercialism and search for fresh places to poop has led him to target smaller and smaller venues -- blogger and Russian art expert Matthew Bown even suggested recently that Brener had exhausted London’s 'smallish events and institutions,' and that he would have to return to more obvious targets if his gestures were to have any meaning (see This downward trajectory reached a kind of climax last night, Mar. 16, 2009, when Brener was ejected from a talk at Trolley Gallery."

It wasn't so much of a climax as it was an evacuation. And, from Matthew Brown's Russian Art blog, IZO, via February 18th: "Breaking news: at a show of new work by Evan Holloway at The Approach W1 last night (11 February), Alexander Brener (Brenner), according to my correspondent, 'did a horrid thing on the floor ..'"

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