Today Boingboing linked to a photograph of two towers created by artist Jack Daws using only McDonald’s french fries and Heinz ketchup. Think freedom fries. Think freedom tower. Think September 11th. Think American cultural imperialism. Think our childish, naive approach to foreign policy.
Think how perfectly rectangular those McDonald’s fries are.
So I scrolled down through the Greg Kucera Gallery’s online exhibition of Daws’ August 2003 show (mostly looking for something I had been warned would be NSFW) when I stumbled upon another piece I’m sure I’d heard about before, but don’t remember ever seeing.
The title of the work is Origins of the World—which is funny. The extreme close-ups of female genitalia is kitschy. The family-oriented multi-photo frame is blisteringly ironic. Turning hardcore graphic porn into art is hilarious. The whole thing is also kind of gross.
But there’s a not so hidden allusion there. The full title of the piece is Origins of the World (after Courbet). Hmm. Who’s Courbet? And what could he possibly have to do with this artwork?
According to the Wikipedia, Gustave Courbet was a French realist who believed an “artist’s mission was the pursuit of truth which would help erase social contradictions and imbalances.” And he happens to be famous for a similarly titled painting, L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World), conveying the very same tongue-in-cheek juxtaposition of our bodies and our taboos. Which I like, quite a lot.
Jack Daws’ Origins of the World (after Courbet) reminds me of the artist Adam Connelly, who takes pornographic photos and pixelates them to such a large scale that you can’t rationally call the paint on the canvas porn, and yet the mind still sees a pornographic image. Which is such a brilliant way of suggesting that the porn may only exist in our heads.