Fast forward to now. Same performance - but that sound you hear is not the opening doors of an asylum, but of such elite institutions as the Tate gallery, the Metropolitan museum , the doors of fame, riches, fawning articles. How the times change.
From The Guardian, speaking of Subodh Gupta -
"Perhaps most striking to western eyes is his use of cow dung. The 42-year-old has made installations out of manure patties, kitchen fuel for millions of Indian country homes, and painted with dung à la Chris Ofili. In a nine-minute video, Pure, the artist stands covered in thick layer of bovine excreta that is slowly hosed off in a shower. Gupta says he wanted to play with meanings of "purity". "In Indian villages, cow shit is used for spiritual cleaning like an antiseptic. But this is not true of today's [Indian] cities. I wanted to show that." "
Do you get the feeling that contemporary art world is replete with smooth operators , who have a keen sense of the right things to say , the right gestures and the right postures that would convince and beguile the 'powers' of this strange world ?
The fields of Installation 'art' and Video 'art' are particularly crawling with these charmers and would-be charmers, since by their very nature these fields require not any kind of talent, skill or creativity (which without the first two is impossible ) but some sort of pseudo-intellectual-obscure justification for - well, for anything! Just do, make, present anything and call it art. Make-up (and I do mean make-up ) any pseudo-intellectual explanation , suitably obscure, don't forget to sprinkle it with the 'right' words - like 'parallel narratives' , 'oeuvre' , 'experimentation' , 'threads of connectivity' etc.- that will impress without meaning anything . In fact you don't even have to take that trouble - there are professionals who get paid to do just this - we call them art-critics , and there is great competition among them to 'discover' new 'artists', to pour forth ever more mumbo-jumbo in their relentless pursuit to enlighten, to explain, to justify - well, you know, anything. Like I said , just do anything and call it art. The witch-doctors, er, sorry , the art-critics, will assure the world of your greatness.
Have an uncontrollable urge to bathe in dung? Fine, just don't do it privately- do it in a gallery, or make a video out of it put it in an 'installation. Want to take out the garbage? Great! Go put it in a gallery. Feel like answering the call of nature? Great! Just do it in an empty can, take the can to a suitable art-gallery ( which encourages 'experimentation' and 'new forms' of creativity ), and you might sell it at a price higher than that of gold. Your shit is worth more than you know!
It is art. No, it is ART !
And it stinks.