charlie sheen as postmodern artwork

11 April 2011 § 2 Comments

I enjoyed the sunny weather in the garden this morning with the latest copy of Frieze. I also took along with me this month’s Empire as back-up just in case the ‘Design and Architecture issue’ became too heavy going – which inevitably it did.

Interestingly I closed Frieze at Grand Theft Auto where Christopher Bedford looks at the way (chiefly) car advertising borrows from contemporary art. Not only do their graphics steal from artists (witness Honda ZDX’s theft of Protrude, Flow from Kodama & Takeno and IBM’s of Mehretu) but they use gallery style presentation to create and enhance value and just as galleries seek to produce reverential spaces where essentially value-less objects can be seen as having prestige and actual value, so the advertisers are using these very same environments to create value systems for supposed technological advancements for their latest models. Kinetic installations in uber-cool surroundings; the aesthetic values of the art gallery spaces used as a ready-made marketing formula.

Opening Empire I found myself at The Rise & Fall & Rise & Fall of Charlie Sheen the latest installment of the car crash that is Charlie Sheen (except of course he is not – he is actually Carlos Estevez).  This is the man who recently stated that ‘I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available. If you try it once you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.’

A quote from Jim Abrahams from 20th Century Fox concludes the article:  ‘It’s almost a completely unique piece of performance art. I think that’s the really interesting thing. Some guy going though a hard time, that’s not news – but he’s transformed this in to something else.’

But how much of what we see of Sheen is ‘real’ – even if his latest tour is called ‘The Violent Torpedo of Truth’? Before his most recent, and most bizarre, appearances – such as a machete-wielding rooftop appearance, drinking from a bottle labelled ‘Tiger’s Blood’ – he had signed up for a $1m promo deal with and another with Live Nation. Performance art, PR, product placement and personal breakdown all rolled in to one?

Are we living in a society where the boundaries between art and life, marketing and PR are rapidly ceasing to exist? Is Charlie Sheen really perhaps just a Joseph Beuys or Ana Mendieta for the modern age? In a modern day environment where we are told that Emin’s unmade bed, Creed’s on and off light or Phillipz’s subterranean warblings are all art how will we be expected to discern the difference between anything at all in the increasingly confused and media dominated world of the future? Will we want to? And will anyone care?

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