Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fine Art of Self Destruction

In case you're in need of a few more stocking stuffers this Christmas, the Star Tribune's has a recommendation. An art book called "Tolerance" by former Replacement's drummer Chris Mars. Let's jump to the end for the summary:

"Tolerance" is a gorgeous book. The colors alone are rich with pleasure, and an eye could wander through his phantasmagoria for hours.
Perfect! I never know what to get my great Uncle Louie, and he likes bright, shiny objects. Should I look up that "ph" word before purchasing, just in case? N'ah it sounds French, so it has to be good. Off to Amazon for the purchase.

[5 minute pause]

There, done. It feels good to get that out of the way. Now to read more about it so I can speak intelligently of its merits after he opens it:

For those brave enough to peek behind the cover of his book -- a portrait of a dagger-wielding corpse, ashen skin peeling away from its face -- a parade of torture and misery awaits.

Well, at least it's gorgeous and pleasure inducing torture and misery.

Mars isn't requesting sympathy for the wretched victims in his paintings. He's demanding it at knifepoint.
Coincidentally, that's the same method he's utilizing for in store book sales.

His blend of aching beauty and stomach-churning gore sends a cocktail of guilt and revulsion straight to the gut. Full of festering sores, smashed teeth and bruising alienation, Mars' creep-show aesthetic haunts and horrifies.
Sure, that sounds good. But I'm already getting these sensations from my recent 401(k) statements.

By trafficking in extreme ugliness, he elevates suffering to a religious experience.
That is, if you happen to belong to a cult of blind, novice chainsaw jugglers.

Paging through the book is like sitting through a somber Catholic rite.
Either this is an unsettling revelation of the quality of the author's wedding ceremony or he doesn't know much about Catholic rites.

An artist statement, printed about a third of the way into the book, makes it clear that [Mars] has an ax to grind: "From my hands, my mission. To free the oppressed, to champion the persecuted and the submissive, to liberate through revelation the actualized Self in those proposed by some to have no self at all."
Ew-kay. I'm guessing that will be good enough for a five figure government subsidy once the multi-billion dollar arts funding tax comes on line. Now I'm getting that torture and misery vibe he was talking about.