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4d(II) research: Controversy

Before starting on our final 4D(II) project, we are tasked to identify at least three artists whom created a controversial video, song or performance art installation. The definition of controversy is a prolonged public disagreement or heated discussion. Taking reference to 20th and 21st century artists, this research can be an inspiration to our concluding group work.

  1. Santiago Sierra

Sierra sends out his message of art through a highly provocative series that explores economic and social structures within capitalist societies. Some examples of his work is paying two herion addicts from a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Puerto Rico to take part of an artwork that involves shaving their heads. Or hiring Iraqi immigrants to be sprayed with polyurethane foam (a type of polymer/plastic that can be found in bed mattresses or car seats). These deliberately controversial works examines the impact of capitalism on those on the margins of society, such as immigrants, drug addicts, and manual labourers. Usually invisible to those in power, they are brought into the spotlight in his work in challenging style, presented as objects to entertain—and outrage—art audiences.

“Nothing has changed since the Middle Ages,” the Spanish artist told BOMB magazine in 2004.

2. Angie Hiesl

Suspended twenty feet above the sidewalk, white chairs are attached to the walls of buildings in Montreal with ten senior citizens sitting on them. One is knitting, another folds laundry and a third is eating. All of them appear to be floating above everyday concerns, their strange position adding an enchanting note to the cityscape. The german artist Angie Hiesl concocted this “human exhibit” so that we might view elderly people as works of art. This is where old age is portrayed as an urban poetry, urging viewers to stop and appreciate what is often swept under the carpet.


3. Ryder Ripps

In 2014, artist Ryder Ripps, ‘an artist of the internet’, was invited to spend a night at New York City’s Ace Hotel as part of the Artists in Residency program. In return for a free sleep, he was expected to produce a piece of art for the hotel. He then invited a male and female ‘masseuses’ found on Craigslist to share his room. He asked them to draw whatever they liked, filmed it, paid them $80 and called the project Art Whore.