Controversial Art

1822 Words8 Pages
INVESTIGATE A RANGE OF ARTWORKS THAT HAVE SHOCKED OR CONFRONTED AN AUDIENCE As values have changed with modern and postmodern thought, artists have set to create more shocking and confronting work to distinguish themselves from the rest. Marcel Duchamp was perhaps the first to push the boundaries with his Fountain, a urinal in an art gallery, which was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th Century by 500 artists and forced his audience to think for themselves. Many artists have followed Duchamp, but have had to go to more and more extreme measures to get noticed, hence Chris Burden's Shoot and so on. If Xiao Yu had have put his dead female fetus head in an artwork forty years ago he would have been arrested immediately.…show more content…
The piece, which had been displayed at the Venice Biennale contemporary art fair in 1999, is comprised of a female fetus head affixed with rabbit eyes and grafted onto the body of a bird. The entire piece is afloat in a basin of formaldehyde. The museum had posted signs warning visitors about controversial artwork and has scheduled a symposium on Aug. 22 to discuss ethical issues surrounding the exhibit. Xiao defended his work from Beijing after a museum visitor in Switzerland who saw the piece filed a criminal complaint. "It's precisely because I respect all life that I did this," Xiao, who is known for his shocking artwork, told the Associated Press. "I want it to be displayed." The bird and fetus "died because there was something wrong with them," he said. "I thought putting them together like this was a way for them to have another life." Xiao has also said the piece is a statement against genetic manipulation and modifications. Cultural differences are quite obvious here. In Beijing this kind of artwork is completely acceptable, with political art, controversial, unlike the West where you see political satire daily in cartoons. Beijing's Imperial Museum even has a separate section for the Chinese public with embalmed bodies of grandparents and their grandchildren and the like. According to Xiao, he bought the human fetus head in 1999 for the equivalent of a few dozen US dollars from someone cleaning out a scientific exhibition hall. A sticker had
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