Poop is hot

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Andrew Jeffrey Wright’s art has always had a scatological substream running through it. I thought it was just him. But the other day I heard an interview with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on Fresh Air and it made me think of poop as more of a mainstream phenomena. Is poop cool or what. (image is cartoon from Wright’s zine, Bowel Movement Quarterly.)

Of course poop is not art unless you re-contextualize it, right? Take it out of the bathroom and it’s…well more than poop.

The more I thought about poop, the more I remembered it as a real presence in the art world. Tom Friedman’s poop on a pedestal sculpture is surely not only about body functions. Paul McCarthy in his Santa and the elves piece, so memorable in a Whitney Biennial of a few years back, uses the stuff to connote a host of swinish behavior.

(As for those who write about art, they use poop, too — witness Tom Woolf’s memorable coinage for outdoor public sculpture “the turd in the plaza” in “From Bauhaus to Our House.” Everybody thinks it’s funny — but it’s kind of serious too. For more on the art-poop context, check out this lively talkback feature hosted by Charlie Finch at Artforum, which starts out with a mention of Wim Delvoye’s poop machine Cloaca and goes on in a funny/humorous scatological way.

Anyway, Wright’s scatology (which is mostly underground in his great show at Spector) surfaces in the animated “White bear, brown tail,” a short, action video featuring a teddy bear and a Tootsie roll. Where Wright goes with his poop is right into the realm of humor, where it fits nicely.

All this pooping around is just art transgressing social norms, something it’s supposed to do, I guess. I wonder if poop needs its own category in the history books — portraits, landscapes, poop…Maybe it’s time.

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