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4D II Project 3 – Controversial artists and their works [Research]

Researching on controversial art works

Warning: Age-restricted content

At Art Cologne 2014, Swiss artist Milo Moiré stood naked on a pair of stepladders outside the German art fair, proceeding to squeeze paint-filled eggs out of her vagina. Each egg smashed on the blank canvas below, creating a supposedly colourful expression of fertile creativity. Moiré explained: “I’m interested in pushing boundaries through art, living and expressing my art with my body and mind while opening mental doors.”

Milo Moiré is a Swiss conceptual artist and model known for her nude performances and the use of her body in her art.   “To create art, I even use THE original source of the femininity – my vagina“.


Final work – “PlopEgg Painting”


Personal Opinion

I came across this piece of performance art by Milo Moire from a video post shared on Facebook, 2 years ago. It was a memorable piece to me as I first watched such a daring and raw art performance (before I started studying art).
What was impactful to me, was her nudity in public and that she was performing with her private body part, pushing painted eggs out of her birth canal (an act which will be censored and disallowed in most conservative societies such as Singapore). Hence, I was shocked by the explicity of her performance, but also admired how she was composed and confident of her own work. She knew what she was doing, and she gave sense of pride in her production.
In my own understanding, I perceived it as “a birth of her work of art” literally, with the most traditional and explicit expression and development of the work. I could relate it to concepts of women, fertility and creativity, but I feel like it could be at a more appropriate setting, with interested audience, instead of a public place with passers-by just moving on with their everyday life.
she trying to normalise the performance and be integrated with the everyday thing or was she trying to invite serious attention to her art?


Public Response

laughing “a powerful feminist statement about women, fertility and creativity”
yell “absurd, gratuitous, trite and desperate. Anywhere but an art gathering, this would be regarded as a satire on modern cultural emptiness”


Art Practice

She believed in using her body as a medium, a tool of her art expression live. In her famous performance art pieces, she was mostly nude as symbolism for her beliefs/concept. 


Other controversial works by her:

“Naked Selfies”

Naked Selfies was another piece of work by her which resulted in a resounding public discussion disputing over the controversy in the concept she was trying to perform. 


JOHN CAGE – 4’33” (1953)

John Cage composed his most famous and controversial piece of ‘music’, a piece void of sounds made by any musical instrument. It was performed by David Tudor, in 3 movements.
Pianist David Tudor walked out on stage on August 29, 1952, in Woodstock, NY, sat down at the piano and closed the lid. At the end of the first movement, the lid was re-opened. This closing and opening was repeated to before the second and third movements. Instead of music performed in a traditional concert setting, the initial impression was that the audience had been subjected to silence. 


John Cage on Silence:


Why 4’33” ?
John Cage: “Of the four characteristics of the material of music, duration, that is time length, is the most fundamental.  Silence cannot be heard in terms of pitch or harmony:  it is heard in terms of time length.” He emphasised structural significance in his music. 


Art Practice

Cage (1912-1992) was a pioneer in using instruments in non-standard ways. For example, he wrote works for a prepared piano–a piano that had objects placed under some of the strings to create unique sounds. He was also a major influence in the development of modern dance along with his partner, choreographer Merce Cunningham. He was also one of the first to compose using electronics.
It was the composer’s study of Zen Buddhism that influenced his aleatoric or chance music, meaning that part of the composition is left up to chance as determined by the performers.
(Adapted from:


Public response

The silence of the piano did not leave the audience in silence. They made their own music by their whispers that grew louder as they wondered what was going on. Some of them got up and walked out. Others shuffled in their seat, anticipating that the pianist would play something. Cage created this work to encourage people to listen to the sounds around them. The sounds make their own music even if it is not the traditional or conventional music people are used to.


Public discussion:
laughing Many were supportive with the idea of the natural soundscape and appreciative of the piece that was ‘played by the audience and the environment’. John Cage brought attention to silence (and pauses) as fundamental and essential music. It gave a deeper level of understanding of music that it comprises the production of sound as well as its absence. 

yell However, others disagree with the labelling of simplistic silence (already present & not produced) as music even though the composition and performance by professional musicians seemed to give the piece justification as legitimate music.


Personal Opinion

It was a brave move to “perform silence live”. I liked the avant-garde of it, a fresh idea of observing greater detail of our surrounding sounds and ambience into a soundscape. I was greatly inspired by that fact that 4’33” is a versatile and a constantly different piece played at different settings, under different conditions and with a different audience – because it is live piece contributed by everything/everyone in the same setting at the time. It just means that, each time it is a new experience. wow. Yet, I agree with the point that it may not be considered music or composition as there wasn’t a fixed or specific tune/feeling designed by the musician, but the novel idea and experience initiated by John Cage should definitely be credited. 🙂


Warning: Age-restricted content

One of the most discussed controversial video of today’s age. This video features naked wax dolls of George W. Bush, Donald Trump, Anna Wintour, Rihanna (who sings the hook for the track), Chris Brown, Kim Kardashian, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, Taylor Swift and Kanye West all laying naked in bed in a modern recreation of Vincent Desiderio’s Sleeppainting from 2008.
The controversy lies in the feature of controversial figures who were related to him in different aspects, as well as nude exposure of the other celebrities. Was it his attempt at greater fame? Was he using his artistic license to broadcast nude likenesses of real people to a worldwide audience.


Kanye West

Kanye West is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, fashion designer, and entrepreneur.
In a public interview with Vanity Fair, West divulged that the celebrities chosen for the “Famous” video had some impact or influence on his journey to fame which included his ex-lovers, industry friends, family and anyone else who has contributed to his controversial trek to celebrity.
He said his inspiration originated from “Sleep” by Vincent Desiderio (2008), and he had tried to maintain artistic vibe in the video by ensuring the shots were not too sexualised.


Public response

There were varying responses from the public. Most of them shared their own perception of the meaning of the video.

laughing “The video itself is really uncomfortable, because it mirrors how the media/world is super obsessed with these famous people, almost in a serial killer kind of way. Even when these famous people are really vulnerable (sleeping and naked), we still keep looking at them. At the end though, he thanks them for being famous and kind of having to put up with being famous. There’s a redeeming/clear shot at the end of the whole painting.”
An interesting rendition of “Sleep” by Vincent Desiderio.

yell Many comments on his video included discontent regarding the sexual content and explicit lyrics, drawing reference to it as pornography.  


Personal Opinion

I feel that this whole controversy brings us to a bigger issue in this age – nudity and sex. Looking at most controversial pieces around the world in the modern society, the feature of nudity and sexual content invites most discussion about what should be the extent/scope… IN THE NAME OF ART? This leaves us to defining art and how art should be. Yet, it cannot be done, which is why controversy arises. With regards to “Famous” by Kanye West, I do not agree with his ‘artistic move’ in rendering his own version of “Sleep” by including known figures ‘in the same bed’. I think it is unnecessary and there could be other ways to express his same meaning. In my opinion, he made use of the idea of sex and nudity as a topic for discussion and… fame. 




This painting was initially on a public billboard near the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, but was later moved inside the gallery setting after a group of young black people attacked it with sledgehammers.

In this painting, Jesse Jackson was portrayed with white skin, bleached hair, and blue eyes (the general features of white Americans). The words along with the portrait “How ya like me now?” were inspired by Kool Moe Dee’s lyrics (an iconic rapper of the eighties).


Jesse Jackson

Why Jesse Jackson?
In the 1984 presidential election and 1988 presidential election, Jesse Jackson became the second African-American black candidate to run nationwide primary campaigns.

Through this art work, Hammons challenges the notion that the colour of one’s skin can accountably change their politics, suggesting that racism still interfered with politics.

David Hammons



Public response

The most immediate and direct response triggered by the art work was the damage of the work piece by a group of young black people. They probably felt that Hammons’ portrayal of Jesse Jackson was an act of racism, an insult to the black as it suggested a white superiority.
Hammons’ ‘How Ya Like Me Now’ conjures an amalgamation of responses. Some find his portrayal an insult to black political history, whilst others recognise a pressing statement made by Hammons, ultimately, urges us to defy and combat the prejudices made in politics.


Personal Opinion

I liked this piece of controversial art. It was meant to invite discussion, raise controversy. The act of damage of the painting is a reflection of superficial understanding (misunderstanding) of the message behind the Hammons’ portrait of Jesse Jackson as white. Some may perceive it as racism, that white Americans are preferred, and would be superior than the black to become President. However, I feel a sense of Hammons’ sarcasm in his work. “How ya like me now?” contains a negative connotation in this case. He seems to be mocking/ expressing his disagreement towards the issue of race and skin colour, a factor to affecting victory of presidency election. 


Ultimately, art is subjective. Most art become different in the varying perception of its meaning. And I feel that is what is interesting and attractive about art.




John Cage 4’33” Music or Silence?

What silence taught John Cage:  The story of 4′ 33″


4D II Proj 01: Alter Ego

Truthfully, i’m excited to be doing alter ego. I have known myself since young that I have many many alternative personalities of me in my head that I think about and feel about. But moral education and my own set principles lead myself to who I am today.

This project would kinda be stripping a part of my inner a little and I’m just excited to do that.
Haha oh, you don’t know me man. 


Task 1: Fictional characters
Severus Snape
Bruce Banner
Harley Quinn

Task 2: Public figures
Show Luo Zhi Xiang
Cara Delevingne
Lu Rui En
Song Ji Hyo
James Corden

Task 3: People I know
Wei En
Kai Xin
Arrow (My God Dog – friend’s dog)

Task 4

Harley Quinn
she reflects our own dark desires, our own animalist nature that most of us suppress with religion, cultural values

voluntarily dives into the acid to prove her love
walks the fine line between dependent and independent
crazy and lovable to slut and bimbo
constantly seeking a sense of identity but doesn’t know how
a character full of conflicting personas
and another one of her personas is her rational, Harleen Quinzel side
ultimately, Harley is a character of passion
instead of allowing societal constraints and accepted norms dictate her action, she feels she is only free when she is allowed to do absolutely anything she wants
and she doesn’t hate people like the Joker, she loves people
Harley has a strong sense of compassion and loyalty towards the people in her life

The Psychology of Harley Quinn: A character analysis

I feel I have conflicting personas similar to her.

She does shows our dark desires, one of them 敢爱敢恨 (dares to love and dares to hate). Her love for Joker so strong to willingly do almost anything for him, and sticking by him no matter what.

People may say she’s dumb to be his puppet when he doesn’t reciprocate her love. But she’s brave.

Most of us today have reservations about showing our vulnerability and about being dependent and clinging onto what we love and what we want. Sometimes, we let go.

I want to love like her. In another side of me, I want to be that crazy and lovable and a slutty bimbo.

Yet understandably, we suppress our dark side with morals and values we think are more important in the society. That is the rational, Harleen Quinzel.

Wanting to break free from societal norms and constraints to do anything she absolutely wants, that is Harley Quinn.

And that is me too.


ill-tempered, pretentious, and cynical who strongly despises his neighbors for their constant boisterous, noisy behaviour
also has a passion and interest in reading, arts and music

a darker side of his personality where he sometimes became wrathful, indifferent, and sadistic
however, Squidward is not a heartless character as he had softer side
to some degree, he actually friends with SpongeBob and Patrick but incapable to see the positive side of their childish antics, reason why he tend to loathe them more than truly love them

deep down, squidward wants to integrate himself into the world of zaniness his bikini bottom, but his intelligence and inability to ‘turn off his brain’ means he will always have high expectations that the thrills of bikini bottom can never meet, meaning his only hope is to save up and move somewhere that he prefers.

Perhaps the personality of Squidward could be relatable to most of us Generation Z teens.

Grumpy 24/7, ill-tempered, indifferent and a little unconcerned about life.

I feel like that most of the time though deep down, I really wish to integrate myself into this world and socialise with everyone else.

But I also feel that I’m too old and grumpy for all these, and reality just falls below expectations all the time.

Despite how we really feel like squidward, we hide this self just to integrate into society, to make friends so we don’t really end up a sore and lonely squidward.

Bruce Banner/ Hulk
socially withdrawn
emotionally reserved

capable of deep love/
turns into Hulk under extreme stress and anxiety
simple minded
quick to anger
resistance to mind control

I was drawn to the personality of Bruce Banner and his alter ego, the incredible hulk.

I have been known to my family and friends as an easily hot-tempered person, but most of the time socially awkward and reserved about expressing my feelings and emotions. I agree I get mad easily and I didn’t manage my anger issues well enough in the past. I regret that I used to let them out on my closest kins, having hurt them physically and emotionally. ):

After regaining my rational sense, I was deeply upset by myself, seeing the disappointed and saddened faces of my family. I promised to learn to control my emotion with better ability, learning to change ‘hot anger’ into ‘cold anger’ at times, and even to not be as easily angered.

Under high emotional stress and anxiety, for example academic pressure, I am vulnerable to being annoyed and getting mad.

This has happened just not too long ago when I was extremely stressed about taking my ‘A’ Levels but my family wasn’t helping me at all in doing so. I had to take up much of the responsibility in taking care of my grandmother and my parents, while managing with the heavy academic workload. The home environment was especially disruptive, not allowing me to rest well nor being able to revise my work when I get home. I forced myself to cope with all the commitment but eventually, I couldn’t hold it in and things happened… pretty badly.

The more I hold my emotions in, the greater the anger reflected in my actions.

I finally decided to do it based on Hulk, as it relates to my life more.


Task 5

Perform alter ego.

(Password: Hulkie)



Candy is an emotionally reserved and shy student. She tries to mingle around but is socially awkward. 

Under high emotional stress and anxiety, such as academic pressure and social expectations, she becomes vulnerable to being annoyed and getting mad.

The more she hold my emotions in, the greater the anger reflected in her actions.

She finally flips… (pun intended)


Further character research:

Dialogue/monologue/narration is especially important in this assignment. Therefore, to construct a scene and script, it is imperative to first know the way Hulk speaks.

From watching movies and from comics, I found out that Hulk speaks in third person. It is the most crucial find, with others including the fact that he is stuck with very little vocabulary and very little speech as well.


Concept development:

I wanted to it to be a close reflection of my life, that it has happened similarly to me before with the characteristics and traits of the person whom I decided to work based on. From Hulk, I found relativity in his simple mindedness and easiness to anger. I follow a close personality of a usually shy and reserved person, but is able to ‘explode’ and change into a different person when triggered.



Film reference:
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Avengers (2012)

Paying close attention to how little Hulk speaks, when does he speaks, and how he speaks in third person with simple language.



The greatest challenge is to portray the similarity in characteristics and behaviour, without outrightly displaying or changing the outside appearance. Meaning, I have to show distinctly who was my inspiration for this video, without giving obvious physical hints. This has to be done with sufficient character research.