Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Is the 'Death of Prince Harry' art?

Y'know, I don't have a problem with artwork. As a matter of fact, I go to the museum at least a couple of times a year to make myself feel somewhat cultured and refined. I don't always get what's on display, but I try to hide it. At present, I'm working on making observations which sound important, but ultimately say absolutely nothing of significance. For example...

Marilyn: I like the way he smushed all of the colors together. Such joie de vivre! Almost childlike in its energy and enthusiasm.

Companion: Yes, his use of primary colors is impressive. But see how he experimented with red and blue to make purple? So inspired.

Marilyn: Indeed, so avant-garde. He's really growing in his artistry.

Now I will admit that I tend to like sculpture more, especially when it's of the human form, for obvious reasons; I can tell what its supposed to be. But sometimes I still don't get it. Take for example artist Daniel Edwards recent work "Iraq War Memorial: Death of Prince Harry." The Memorial features Prince Harry prone, his unfired gun holstered, pennies placed over his eyes, and his head resting on a Bible. Prince Harry is represented clutching a bloodied flag of Wales, and holding to his heart a cameo locket of his late mother, Princess Diana, while a desert vulture perches on his boot. 'A war-mutilated Prince Harry is the symbolic fallen hero in a memorial honoring those willing but unable to serve in the Iraq conflict...Harry’s head is ear less, denoting the explicit threats against the Prince from militia leaders saying they planned to send him back to his grandmother "without his ears." Eventually, the severed ears will be bronzed, put on display and then auctioned on eBay.

Tugs at the heart strings doesn't it? Makes you want to enlist to compensate for him right? Somethings missing though, a card that says "Harry" in Charles'/William's/or the Queen's handwriting. Who knows, maybe Mr. Edwards thought that might have gone a tad too far.

Unsurprisingly Daniel Edwards is no stranger to controversy. He's also created 'Suri's bronzed baby poop', and 'Paris Hilton Autopsy,' as a 'warning to underage, teenage prom-queen drinkers.' His sculpture featuring Britney Spears is called 'The Birth of Sean Preston.' shows her on all fours, giving birth to her first son. It's meant to be a pro-life statement - the bravery of her decision, as a young mother, to put family before her career. "Britney provides inspiration for those struggling with the ‘right choice’,” said artist Daniel Edwards, pre-head shaving incident and regrettable MTV awards appearance. Isn't that like saying Madonna (the singer) is a model for Catholicism?

Whether you're for the war or not, whether you think this is art or not, this piece does make a statement. While his work is intriguing I find it somewhat sceptical that he has chosen such well known subjects, in such extreme positions, and claim they convey an important message. Actually having done so cancels any such message out. Some may find this piece inappropriate, an attempt to shock, a gimmick, a prank or a sincere comment on important issues. Ultimately art is in the eye of the beholder.

What do you think?

© Marilyn Braun 2007

22 comments:

Cinderella said...

Ha, who is he kidding. I don't believe he's trying to convey important messages. He could better do that using anonymous figures. I think he's trying to draw attention to himself by portraying celebrities in shocking ways (and I guess it works).

Marilyn said...

Yes he's certainly proven it works. Some have actually said that his approach is an artform in itself.

I actually find his work somewhat intriguing - maybe that's the macabre side of me though. I don't see the intended 'message' in any of his pieces. For example, I wouldn't think of pro-life or underage drinking by looking at the Britney Spears or Paris Hilton sculptures. I don't know what to make of the Suri baby poop. But we're talking about him and his work so maybe that's the ultimate intention. In that respect I'm not sure he's much different from say Madonna who has used her music, videos and her Sex book to gain attention. Some of the shock of that has worn off though.

Cinderella said...

I wonder if he isn't really making an anti-war statement with the Prince Harry memorial?

(By the way, you've probably noticed it already but most of your post is missing right now. I only see the first photo and paragraph.)

Marilyn said...

I was wondering the same thing - is he for or against the war?

Yes, I know about the post - it's actually deliberate! I'm trying to re-format the posts on this page so that they only show part of the posting and if you want to read the rest you need to click on the 'read more' link, which is actually just under the 'Labels'. I'm trying to move the 'read more' line up so that it's more obvious. Hopefully I'll get that sorted out!

Cinderella said...

Sorry! I completely missed that, but the "read more" link is noticeable now.

Marilyn said...

Yes I'm still working on it but I hope to eventually have the Labels below 'Continue reading.' Until I bolded and aligned it on the right I didn't notice it either!

Emily Veinglory said...

I just think that things based on real living people are either stalker-esque or gauche and this is no exception.

twizzle said...

It's definitely gauche. But you have to give him credit, it's highly effective. People talk about his work, which is clearly his intention. But art? well, if one purpose of art is to incite, then it might be.

Thursday said...

I'm in constant awe that Daniel Edwards isn't up on charges of some kind. I have no argument with his art, personally, although I do feel that he's a bit of a paparazzi in a new medium.

But a lot of his work, such as the Prince Harry piece, could be seen as invasive and even threatening to the subjects.

Virginia Lee said...

I believe that it is the responsibility of the artist to challenge us. Even so, I don't like this piece particularly because I adore Prince Harry and have since he was wee. I don't like to think of him being dead. HOWEVER, this work has relevance even if it is upsetting and in somewhat questionable taste.

On the other hand, Paris Hilton's Autopsy and Suri's Bronzed Poop had me falling on the floor in near hysterics.

Potayto, potahto.

Emily Veinglory said...

Challenge, sure. But with a real person's life so his own family have to look at that?

Talia Mana said...

I just think that things based on real living people are either stalker-esque or gauche and this is no exception.
I'm with Emily V
I can't see the appeal ...

Marilyn said...

In all honesty I hope Prince Harry never sees this piece. I'm sure he would find it incredibly disturbing and threatening. I'm wondering how Daniel Edwards would like it if the tables were turned on him.

Bill Fullerton said...

Loved this article, Marilyn. It's hard to put together a thought provoking piece that's also entertaining.

I'm willing to cut this guy a bit of slake. Anyone who sculpts "Paris Hilton Autopsy" can't be all bad.

Sam said...

That's creepy. Initial impression aside, I'm torn on this. On one hand, political cartoons would become a lost art if it were suddenly forbidden to make unflattering art using recognizable faces. On the other hand, the Britney Spears piece, in particular, strikes me as a violation. I can't say that I'm overly fond of this modus operandi.

Loquacious Me said...

I'll join Sam in agreeing that it's creepy at first blush. I appreciate the message he's trying to convey (at least, I think I do), but this just spikes my icky meter for some reason. I doubt I would enjoy his other works, either, from what has been described.

Kathleen Frassrand said...

Actually, I do think these statues create an important message. And that message (IMHO) is that the "celebrities" of this world are petted and cossetted. I feel that his sculptures are very tongue-in-cheek and he is poking fun at these pampered prima donnas. I mean ... really.... who can take Paris Hilton and Britney Spears seriously? At least Harry has a legitimate claim to celebrity, other than being outrageous and rich. But, Harry does get "special treatment" because of his status. He doesn't have to go fight, because the risk to him is greater. The troops would spend too much time and attention on protecting Harry than on the jobs they were supposed to be doing. But.. it just smacks a tad of all those other celebrities who use their power and position to avoid the consequences of their actions. So, I think that each of his statues is meant in a derrogetory manner, and I think they are brilliant when viewed in that light.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

I wonder if he chooses his objects simply BECAUSE they'll cause controversy and comment. Classic attention seeking egotist who gets off on everyone talking about him. It doesn't matter if it's good or bad publicity as long as it forces people to comment.

Of course, I know nothing about art either.

While I'm a lot disgusted with this 'art' I also respect the artist for being brave enough to put himself out there, to go beyond politically correct and to put the TOUGH questions before the public with his own opinion clearly on display.

Decaf, please said...

I don't think one should portray a living person as a dead person. What would you think if someone did a sculpture like this of you? Creeeeepy.

VirtualWordsmith said...

It's something, but I don't know if it's art.

Marilyn said...

I can see that he's satirizing (is that the right word?) celebrities, but I'm just not sure that conveying them as dead (when they're alive) is entirely appropriate. The Britney Spears sculpture smacks of work for the sake of shocking the person viewing it. Giving birth is a very personal thing, that shouldn't be done for the world to see! Maybe he's into that but I just think it falls under the category of too much information.

I have no idea what to make of Suri Cruise's first poop. What exactly is that supposed to say?

Kathleen Frassrand said...

Marilyn,

I started to comment again on this thread, but I seem to have WAY TOO MUCH to say on it. LOL. So, I created a post on my site and linked it back to yours. Hope that is OK.

http://theblog.frassrand.com/?p=24