Friday, May 11, 2007

Art Space News: Daniel Edwards 'Shocks' us again.

He shocked us with his sculpture of pop star Britney Spears giving birth- perhaps that is why she has crashed again? He awed us with his 'sexy' bust of Hillary Clinton- now I know why Bill strayed! He even amazed us with Suri's bronzed baby poop- or did that sculpture represent TomKat's media life? Regardless of any supposed meaning behind his work, Daniel Edwards is serving art viewers another round of... think Suri's bronzed baby poop.

This time Edwards has set his sights on another celebrity: Paris Hilton. Edwards has created a sculpture of the hotel heiress and socialite as a naked corpse, with cell phone in hand, legs spread and crowned with a tiara. Edwards stated that the "Paris Hilton Autopsy" is a "statement about the dangers of drunk driving just as high school prom season rolls around...". What? How noble of you Mr. Edwards... unfortunately I believe I see another intention behind his work!

"It's really kind of a wake-up call for anybody who really pays attention to Paris Hilton, close enough that they might end up emulating her," stated Edwards about the piece. I think a different type of 'wake-up call' is in order. I think it is time we cut through the bronzed Suri poop in order to discover the intentions of Mr. Edwards and his sculptures. Isn't it ironic that he decides to unveil this piece just a few days after Hilton's sentencing? Am I the only one making the connection?
In my eyes Edwards is leeching off of the lives of celebrities in order to advance his own career. Sadly, we live in a time that anyone can become famous over night by making a mockery of a celebrity, political figure, or anyone else of supposed importance. This art-stardom can occur regardless of talent, skill, or process of thought behind the work- IF the the timing is right. I will give Mr. Edwards one thing- he sure knows how to time the unveiling of his work. His strategy is flawless.

This strategy of combating the cult of popularity with absurd sculptures is really paying off for Edwards. However, he does not claim that as his intention. If he did I might actually respect his kitsch sculptures for what they are. Instead, he attempts to put deep meaning behind works that only boil down to shock.
I strongly suspect that Edwards creates work that boils down to numbers- as in the the numbers of people who will stumble upon his sculptures while doing popular searches. In other words, Edwards creates sculptures that he knows will gain attention based on the people they represent.
For example, if you do a Google search on Britney Spears you will find links to Edwards sculpture after just a few page views. The same goes for Suri- after a few pages you will find yourself in TomKat crap. Edwards is creating sculptures that demand views online. Sculptures that leech off searches that a countless number of people make every day on popular search engines.

I've observed Mr. Edwards work at the Bridge Art Fair in Chicago. His sculpture of Spears seemed to be the figurehead of the exhibit. However, there were better examples of art at the fair- art that was more deserving of that position- art that does not have to rely on media hype to make a point.
People viewing the piece did not see a deep meaning behind it. They did not see a pro-life message as Edwards has stated was his intention. They saw an absurd sculpture... a funny moment.... something to be captured from the flash of a camera while pointing at the sculpture in a sexually suggestive manner with their friends.
That is my opinion,
Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree with you, that Edward's art simply cashes in on the publics fascination of celebrity "poop" so to speak. That fact that he denies this and pretends that his work has some serious artistic vision or public commentary beyond the rubbernecking-at-a-car-crash aspect is what makes me dislike his work. The public has a totally absurd interest in celebrity, and if he were trying to make more a statement on the viewer rather than the image, I might respect him more. Thanks!

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure Edwards is exploiting Paris to the extent you describe. There might be an aspect of exploitation in that he could have gotten his point across just as efficiently with an anonymous corpse instead of a specific celebrity.

However, when one considers all the elements in Edward's sculpture, the naked corpse, the cell phone, the spread legs, and the crown, I believe it's a powerful social commentary, especially in light of the Nicole Smith tragedy.

The piece is undermined the most by Edward's weak comments about his purpose for creating the work. Sometimes an artist's work would benefit more by remaining silent and letting the work speak for itself. It's a lesson I'm still trying to learn.

Anonymous said...

That was quite the enjoyable read. In my opinion, he could very well have some deep meaning behind his work, but his choice of subject clouds any possibility of his intentions being taken seriously. If he's an intelligent man and the message is more important than the subject he would stray away from the kitschy iconic media types. You can't tell me his intention isn't to get as many viewers as possible when he chooses people, like Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton for his sculptures. I'm not saying that I believe there is anything wrong with that at all. I mean... maybe he believes so strongly in his message that he's willing to stoop to base his work off of these well known subjects to get people to look first out of curiousity and then think about the meaning. Personally, I feel the subject matter is what too distracting to extract and depth from his work. He's definitely bold. I'll give him that. I can def say... I've never been a fan of Koons, but I do respect what he does... because he's daring enough to do it.

MRFB said...

I disagree.

I don't see him as leeching off of celebrity in order to bring himself fame. In my opinion, he's mocking celebrity, the concept of it as a whole and how we as a society turn two-bit actors and lushes into idols, perfect in every way. We make them in our own minds infallible, and he's (in my opinion) trying to make us see that these are not people that are worthy of being lauded by society.

Anyways, what's wrong with making art based on current events? It's been done for millenia. They say to write what you know, and art is the same way. There's a saturation in pop culture with these celebrities whose lives are consumed with drama and drugs and pregnancies and everything else. We're surrounded by it, so why not make art of it?

Balhatain said...

You are all making good points for and against his work. I guess what bothers me the most is that he just does not defend his work very well based on what I've read and the people I've discussed this issue with.

Assumptions are easily made if an artist is unable to defend his or her work verbally. Perhaps Edwards is a victim of his lack of communication more than anything else? Based on what little information there is about him I must conclude that his work is nothing more than hype.

I've defended his work in the past because I thought the meaning behind it was going over the heads of some viewers, but after doing some research on him there just does not seem to be much thought behind what he does. It is as if he has found a comfort zone. He knows that he will get a response if he throws a famous person in the mix.

The prom night statement really annoyed me. Really, where did that come from? Is his work going over my head? Why did he have to use Paris Hilton as a model for his work when he could have used an anonymous figure to make the same point? Would he have the same coverage had he used an anonymous model?

I think the anonymity would have made the piece stronger. However, he would not have had the same attention for it. That is why I suggest that he is using the famous to gain fame for himself. Why else would he be doing it?

I can tell you first-hand that his work is gaining more laughs than serious thought from viewers based on what I've observed.