BITS: Women and the Turner Prize, Piero’s Shit, Shepard Fairey Beleaguered

Toma Abts Ert
Tomma Abts Ert, 2003 Acrylic & oil on canvas 48cm x 38cm Boros Collection, Berlin


Only three women have ever won the Turner Prize:

  • Tomma Abts
  • Gillian Wearing
  • Rachel Whiteread

In 1997 when the Turner Prize committee came up with the first all-female shortlist, newspapers instantly lept to attention with such classy headlines as:

‘A woman’s place – is in the gallery’‘The jury’s still out, but where’s the spice, girls?’
‘No sexism, Please; They’re British’

The five times that the short list was all-male were never noted.



There is still speculation about what exactly IS in the cans that Piero Manzoni labeled “freshly preserved” Merde d’Artiste. Some say it’s plaster. Some say pineapple. Some say it’s “something wrapped”. Some say it’s another can, perhaps with something inside it.


Most people are pretty sure it’s not shit, though. Even the artist once told someone that, as the son of a man who worked in a cannery, he certainly wouldn’t have risked canning shit since it would give off  methane gas and explode.

Because the work was apparently inspired by an insult from his father, who said Manzoni’s art was shit, one can assume that no matter what’s in the can, there are still some who will insist that the label’s authenticity needn’t be questioned.



Animal New York’s Bucky Turco , reports that the NYC Department of Buildings has apparently pasted STOP WORK papers to the side wall of Shepard Fairey‘s mural on Houston Street. The claim that the “small building” was put up without a license would seem to be a joke, but the papers, one signed by Deric Lee, Manhattan Borough Commisioner, look real enough (although I have my doubts about the Large Caps).

Meantime, the wall has been tagged already and even broken through, so that part of the previous Os Gemeos shows through.

But, alas, the beleagered artist can’t get an ounce of respect as even the destruction of his wall is held up as a possble publicity stunt.

Artsbeat quotes Fairey as stating:

“Because I’m straddling the line between all these different worlds — the fine art world, the street art world, commercial design, fashion — I think I’m a target for a lot of narrow-minded people who just aren’t comfortable with my multiplatform approach. If that’s how they express their view is by vandalizing my mural, that’s fair. I assume that they think that putting a bullet hole through it is a clever interactive addition, which I actually agree with.”

ESSAY: How to Say Hirst Was First

Who's on first?

Heraclitus was right. When the waters are everflowing, you can never step into the same river twice.

It is therefore, always safe to claim that some work of art, some event, some person, is a “first” — nothing will be the same after so and so, after thus and such, after this.

The controversial Damien Hirst sale at Sotheby’s in 2008 was a first: the contemporary art market would never be the same afterward.

Go ahead and say that, Google it: you won’t lack for support. The press was, after all, in a frenzy, mounting stories about the show, Beautiful in My Mind Forever, and the subsequent two day sale, onto the background blitz of financial failures and the Lehman Brothers collapse.

But what kind of “first” was it?

Continue reading “ESSAY: How to Say Hirst Was First”

Website Powered by

Up ↑