Having come out as an artist I am totally going for it. Seriously. I am following my dream, and the next logical step is quite apparent: I must be controversial.
Imagine the joy of being called controversial. You’ve finally arrived: the red-tops are baying at your door, accusing you of corrupting children and distressing the elderly. Society is crumbling and it’s all your fault. Hooray!
During a seminar about cultivating and managing press contacts, I highlighted some common inflammatory buttons, so that students who pressed them accidentally (or on purpose) weren’t amazed by the resulting lynch-mobs. For example, anything involving religion will be picked up by the worldwide network of crazies gagging for somewhere new to picket, as the art students who included a deep-fried bible in an auction to raise money for an exhibition found out. They made the local news, however. Result!
Some artists are naturally controversial – others have the adjective thrust upon them. Marcus Harvey’s portrait of Myra Hindley made from children’s handprints was in my opinion deeply moving, and I doubt that while creating it
envisaged the fuss it would cause. He may well have relished the attention, as apart from anything else, press coverage does encourage those prices to rise, and rise. Harvey
Don’t try too hard, though: a Belgian performance artist earned the qualification ‘controversial’ by squatting in the middle of an art gallery and shitting on the floor. You’d think his friends would have intervened, saying: ‘Why not try painting by numbers? Poundland will sell you a set and everything. For just one pound!’ I hope he wasn’t looking for love, as at the glamorous champagne opening, guests didn’t glance admiringly from behind their catalogues thinking: ‘I wonder if he’s single.’
Even in our liberal times, the idea of consenting adults having sex has sensitive moralists bathing in disinfectant and calling for an exorcist. Tracy Emin’s ‘All The People I Have Slept With,’ for example, was taken to imply that she had multiple partners, when in fact, she insists that many sleepovers were platonic, that is, without bonking or other daft code-words for shagging you care to share. Or maybe it was about her youth hostelling holiday – those bunk beds can be really tricky for fucking in.
Apparently, there’s another direct way to confront moral straitjackets and prudery: swear.
At the time of writing, some work of mine is proving popular online, because, I suspect it includes profanity. Apparently, I am controversial, but I didn’t mean to do it.
The piece is the size of a postcard and the language is entirely frank and earthy. I have made other work containing swear words but the fucks, shits etc were blended into overheard conversations, and here I’m quoting graffiti found on a wall in
. Perhaps this piece is better, or more beautiful than the others, but I doubt it. The truth is this: if you want attention, swear a lot. Fuck. Just say fuck, that’s all you have to do. Glasgow
I love my new life.