body fluids

Body fluids in art

A relatively new trend in contemporary art is to use body fluids in art. Examples include:

  • The controversial Piss Christ (1987), by Andres Serrano, which is a photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine;
  • Self (1991, recast 1996) by Marc Quinn, a frozen cast of the artist's head made entirely of his own blood;
  • Piss Flowers, by Helen Chadwick (1991-92), are twelve white-enameled bronzes cast from cavities made by urinating in snow (though this might not be characterized as the use of bodily fluids in art, just their use in preparation);
  • performances by Lennie Lee involving feces, blood, vomit from 1990
  • many paintings by Chris Ofili, which make use of elephant dung (from 1992).
  • Gilbert and George's The Naked Shit Pictures (1995)
  • Hermann Nitsch and Das Orgien Mysterien Theatre use urine, feces, blood and more in their ritual performances.
  • Franko B from 1990 blood letting performances.

However, there have been rarer uses of blood (and perhaps feces) for quite some time. Pete Doherty has painted with blood.

Marcel Duchamp used semen decades ago.

Criticism and difficulties

Many conservatives have criticised this development in art as being immoral and depraved. They argue that it is not worthy of being called "art" and has no aesthetic value. They argue it is designed to oppose traditional morals and values, and has links to sadomasochistic sexual activities which they deem perverse. They also find the combination of bodily fluids with religious symbols (such as in Piss Christ) to be blasphemous.

The sale of blood art via eBay is prohibited as eBay prohibits the sale of body parts, and classifies blood art as falling under this heading.

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