Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Art for the Anti-Death Penalty Movement

Over at the Delicious Ghost there's a fascinating story about a Texas death row inmate who has agreed to donate his body for art. The New York Times ran the story about Gene Hathorn, who was convicted of killing his father, stepmother and stepbrother in 1985, and has given his consent for the Danish artist Marco Evaristti to use his body as an art installation.

Mr. Evaristti said he hoped the piece would contribute to a wider project against capital punishment. He told The Art Newspaper: “My aim is to first deep freeze Gene’s body and then make fish food out of it. Visitors to my exhibition will be able to feed goldfish with it.”

Now, I'm normally in full agreement with anything that will further abolition of the death penalty. But in this case, I don't know who's worse, the out-of-options death row inmate, the kooky Danish artist or his fans that will eventually feed the goldfish.

What do you think?


  1. my opinion? i'm not at all convinced this deserves to be called "art". but then, i think that of a lot of things folks today call "art"...

  2. +1

    I fail to see the entertainment value of it.

    Also I see it as more than a little disrespectful of the body. There's a great line from Stephen King's Best work "The Green Mile" to the tune of: "Leave him alone, he's payed his due, he's now square with the house."

    Still I have seen histological sections of a death-row inmate (As well as the "Body World" exibit that deals with other consenting body donations) and I found them quite impressive, and in their own way, beautiful.

    Still I find the means of body disposal not having one thing or another to do with the penalty.

  3. well, a thing certainly doesn't have to be entertaining to be art. a lot of good art is rather more disturbing than amusing, in fact.

    but i'm privately convinced (speaking for myself only, now) that a work of art must attempt to communicate something, must have some sort of message. good art should, in my arrogant opinion, either communicate something novel and insightful, and/or send its message in a new, creative, or inspiring fashion.

    i don't see much of a message in this work. insofar as one is there, it's not communicated in any way that isn't trite, lowbrow, and distracting from the message itself. so, at most this is bad art, and possibly not even that.

  4. See, Nomen, anything artfully crafted to disturb, upset, or anger me IS entertaining as I like anything that gets my mental gears going. A big reason why I read blogs like this. Its one thing to read thought provoking political posts that you agree with, its altogether another to read a post you DISAGREE with, but is still thought-provoking.

    Thirdly are posts that aren't thought provoking at all....agree or disagree I don't bother with them.

  5. Weer'd, The Green Mile is one of the most eloquent anti-death penalty books ever written, IMO. Your calling it his best work inspires me with a glimmer of hope for you. Keep reading, pal.

  6. I'm personally appalled by the idea and would want to make sure any "art exhibit" like that had full disclosure prior to people entering.

    +1 I also don't think it's art, but like Nomen, I think much of what is passed now days isn't art.

    On the other hand, I would want to find out the laws concerning how human remains are disposed and make sure those aren't violated.

  7. A buddy or ours, American ex-marine VietNam vet, who had lived in Italy for 25 years died a couple months ago. He loved history and art and everything related to ancient Rome. His wishes were that his ashes be scattered in the Tiber. We did it. It was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. Nothing at all like this nonsense.