Magazine article Artforum International

Claus Carstensen

Magazine article Artforum International

Claus Carstensen

Article excerpt

GIMPEL FILS LTD.

Our century of art reveals a rich and populous subcultural world of work of--or on--excrement, excretions, and fluids. To name a few: the prissy urinal of Marcel Duchamp, as well as his later semen painting; Piero Manzoni's canned shit; Andy Warhol's oxidation paintings; Andre Serrano's Piss Christ, 1987; the brown stuff of John Miller's and Mike Kelley's art; Carolee Schneemann's menstrual blood; and Helen Chadwick's Piss-flowers. Do we really need to add to this scatological sweepstakes? Claus Carstensen seems to think we do that three is a good deal left to be said about art and the future through piss-and-paint. In this exhibition, Carstensen's works were nearly all monochromes--rich, dark fields of emulsion pushed and pulled with hand, brush, and bottom. These surfaces are meant to look fecal, even though some are simply mixtures of urine and oil paint, or deftly handled brown ink on glass. With the news photograph of a neo-Nazi giving the salute while wetting his pants, we are challenged by the menacing world of adolescence. Carstensen's works--like Painting (Fucked Up), Defacement, 1993, Territorial Pissing No. 6, 1993, and Territory Panel with Stigmatized Self-portrait and Abstract Forms, 1992-93--exemplify the fundamental principle of this sort of project: shit and piss are primarily synecdochal, only secondarily metaphorical. They are the missing links in the chain of being. And if Jasper Johns were less sophisticated and less clever, we might now be admiring a bronzed, painted turd rather than a coffee can loaded with brushes. …

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