Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
I'm a bit late to this discussion, but it's coming up again with my own work and thought I'd comment. I just lectured about the work Paul Bierker referenced to my Art Appreciation students last Friday. You are referring to Chris Ofili's painting, The Holy Virgin Mary, which was destroyed by an offended visitor because Ofili used elephant dung and pornographic images in rendering of the Madonna. We had a lively discussion on whether or not the artist was successful in making a valid work of art. It can’t be denied that his message was completely ignored because he chose to use “repulsive” materials. Which begs the question: “what were his real intentions?” to offend and be edgy (because that is what gets you recognition) or to comment on identity (which is what Ofili claims was his original message).
I agree, to shock for fame is selfish and provides nothing for the benefit of culture. It also adds to the wall of frustration surrounding the art world. The general public already has enough misunderstanding of art. Using repulsive imagery or materials is walking a fine line over aesthetics and not being taken seriously. I think a good artist will consider the message in every aspect of making, including materials. Really, it comes down to common sense.