the take

‘Piss Christ’ Photographer Andres Serrano Craps Out Some New Art

Courtesy of Village Voice/
Andres Serrano

Artist Andres Serrano famously provided a test case for the culture wars of the early nineties, when Jesse Helms led the battle to defund the National Endowment of the Arts. Serrano’s Piss Christ enraged the North Carolina senator and many others, so much so that the beauty of the photo got lost in its blasphemy. Now Serrano has a new show opening next month at the Yvon Lambert Gallery, and he’s moved his focus from No. 1 to, naturally, No. 2. The show, “Shit,” includes 66 pictures of poop, generated by 66 different creatures — from jaguars to bulls to Serrano himself.

Serrano is at his talkative best in chatting up The Village Voice’s Lynn Yaeger. He claims the idea came to him while watching the nude wrestling scene in Borat, and tells Yaeger, “As I started to make the work, I felt a close affinity with Goya and the work he did at the end of life — the underworld creatures. I too started to see figures and creatures in this work.” Later, he explains how the work explores the ego of the artist:

“The show is also very basic — in a way, what I’m saying is that we all think we have the best shit. If you want to see some real shit, check out my shit!” he says, beaming. “I got the best shit in town.”

The photos are, in fact, fascinating, as long as you don’t look at them during lunch. Gorgeously lit, with gleaming backdrops of the same kinds of iridescent colors that permeated Piss Christ, Serrano’s photos overcome their cheesy titles (Bullshit! Deep Shit!) and play with ideas of physical and cultural waste. (They also reference, of course, Merda d’artista, the can of artist’s shit that Piero Manzoni sold for its equivalent weight in gold in 1960.) We’d be interested to see the show ourselves if we weren’t so afraid of the hors d’oeuvre they’ll serve at the opening. Shit on a shingle, sir?

Andres Serrano’s ‘Shit’ Show [VV]
’Shit’ Slideshow [VV]

‘Piss Christ’ Photographer Andres Serrano Craps Out Some New Art