Not-So-Incredible Piss Hulk
Smashed into Significance
Loyal readers may recall our recent post reviewing the University of Chicago’s exhibition Passing Through. A startling act of vandalism at Logan Center Exhibitions has prompted us to reconsider a work we had previously dismissed, Takashi Shallow’s Piss Hulk. Artcasserole.com has obtained exclusive security footage of an unknown assailant approaching Shallow’s piece and striking it with a hammer-like tool, breaking the glass and puncturing the artwork. We must now reckon with the fact that at least one viewer found Piss Hulk provocative enough to vandalize.
We are left to wonder if the hooligan comprehends that they have materially improved the object of their outrage while also raising its legitimacy. Tobin Siebers argued in Disability Aesthetics that “vandalism modernizes artworks.” For Siebers, in modern aesthetics, “damaged art and broken beauty are no longer interpreted as ugly.” Environmental protesters recently made headlines for “modernizing” Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with a splattering of tomato soup–a masterful exercise in bridging abstraction with social justice and even a Warhol reference. Nowadays, it is rarely enough to hang rectilinear works on a wall. It is only when we include the act of vandalism in the frame that Shallow’s Piss Hulk transforms into compelling art.
Like mighty Thor, a single blow from the hammer-wielding miscreant has left behind a wound of broken glass. Paradoxically, this hole fills in what the work previously lacked: a center, a voice, a soul. Prior to its defacement, the original photograph depicted an Incredible Hulk action figure submerged in a bright yellow liquid. But why not make a sharper rebuke of the over-commercialization and cheapening of Marvel iconography in contemporary culture? At most, this image strikes the viewer with a mildly amusing contrast between the action figure’s angry grimace and its tranquil suspension. In the original Piss Hulk, the rage on the Hulk’s face is washed away by a sense of relief and vacancy.
This transubstantiation is only enhanced by the mystery that surrounds it. Was this an incredibly pissed Hulk fan “hulk-smashing” Piss Hulk? A patron disgusted by the Marvel-ification of the arts? A community member offended by its scatological references? Or the artist himself crafting a hoax?
A Review of Passing Through at
Logan Center Exhibitions
This is an amazing show, even for viewers not brought in by the Department of Visual Art’s (DoVA) prestigious reputation. All works were made by 37 artists after completing their DoVA programs. Few works share style or modality, but collectively they generate a festive spectacle with layers of meaning that range from orderly patterns of pop cultural motifs to dramatic statements of identity. Each work feels as sharply cut and rigorous as one expects from the university “where fun goes to die.” But sometimes fun rises from the dead like a maroon phoenix.
Some pieces exemplify the tradition of representational painting, but with conceptual twists like Anthony Adcock’s partial self-portrait. Others are more psychedelic, like the surrealism filtered through pop art in Shanna Zentner’s oil and acrylic painting. A few celebrate the angst of a political rally with works like Jazmine.’s collage featuring a caricature of Trump. Most have the energy of the up-and-coming, enhanced with swirls of windblown, post-pandemic acuity. David Nasca’s sculptures entice the viewer to reach through the holes spaced dynamically across their display case and to touch the cnidarian, “bespoke genitalia” within. There is a complex provocation that is soft, objectifying, and cozy.
These stoic sensualities feel distinctly critical, which is probably intentional. DoVA matured during former Yale sculpture director Jessica Stockholder’s tenure as chair, and it continues to sharpen its theoretical bent with art historian Matthew Jesse Jackson at the helm. The artists appear to embody the pathos of their senior faculty. What curator Scott Wolniak organized here is more of a homecoming than a time capsule, turning a network into a community.
October 7 – December 11, 2022
no signal has arrived
Dear friends, artcasserole.com is delighted to announce its very first exhibition in our brand new virtual gallery. In the midst of her busy international schedule, multidisciplinary curator Iona Liu presents a spectacularly versatile and dynamic group exhibit entitled No Signal. We hope to see you there! Free and open to the public.
The 10 artists featured are intrigued by the signals that humans send, receive, disrupt, and ignore. Their respective practices scout the frontiers of new media, exploring the affordances of mundane forms–from screen recordings to Google Drive folders–as artistic media. At the same time, these experiments cohere insofar as they announce the voices of an “always on” generation bombarded with a steady buzz of misinformation and phatic communications amid the machinations of surveillance capitalism. Through these transformations of objects and images, No Signal offers the viewer new ways of looking at digital space, life, and personhood.
Major support for No Signal and artcasserole.com has been provided by the legendary initiative of Superstructure LLC. At Superstructure LLC, we take great pride in our excellent workmanship, competitive fees, and the ability to deliver outstanding results. Since our founding, we’ve worked hard toward building and maintaining a stellar reputation as a company. We provide clients with a wide range of services to cover all their needs. No matter what your project might be, our team of professionals is ready to bring your dreams to life. Call us today and see what we can do for you.
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