Omnivore’s Art Dilemma
Trent Reznor had a lot of ideas for his video “Closer,” including (1) looking self-tied and overwhelmed in front of a cow’s carcass. I imagine the catering company showing up with a carving knife and some charcoal, but alas, the meat was fly-ridden by then, and the artsy studio-hands strike me as the vegetarian sort. Director Mark Romanek (like Anton Corbijn’s Nirvana and U2 videos) is prone to unironic appropriation of art history, reusing evocative imagery flickering under scratched film in a nonchalant stylized way, as if the idea to place someone in front of a flayed cow was some natural whim, which brings us to (2) Francis Bacon’s somewhat dramatic portrayal of the self-explained “Figure with Meat” (1954), based loosely off of Velázquez’s 1650 portrait of the Pope. Bacon, like and before Gerhard Richter, obscures his painted subject with his brush on the actual canvas as some physical, or at least “material” metaphor on the existential ephemeralness of the subject. Bacon surely looked to Rembrandt’s (3) “Carcass of an Ox” (1655) who, before image mediation and appropriation, simply looked ahead of his eyes and painted what was before him. I love maid behind the ox, cloaked in monochromatic umber, defined only by tonal shifts. The allure of Rocky (mainly in I and IV) is not the final buffed and sweat shiny spectacle, but the humble punk-like training sessions (4). The underdog in sweatpants. Art’s naughty boy and kind-of-asshole Damien Hirst of course cashed in (sadly, literally) in this game of Affected Carcass with (5) “In the Name of the Father” (2005), mashing both spiritual authority figure and his sacrificial backdrop into one. Meat is either promoted into art, or demoted into food. The only thing more irksome about Morrissey’s lyric-inducing self-exile is his question Do you know how animals die? Food ethics humbles me, and I never speak, only chew. Meat is murder, but so is marriage, dating, traffic, the internet, and everything else that happens daily. If our clockwise numeric turn was destined for the museum, make sure you enjoy the modern-y designed restrooms, where you’ll find me discovering, along with my neighbor in the stall next to me, the current exodus of my immoral diet. There’s a critic out there who would call that a painting.