To answer the critic (you know who you are)

October 10, 2011 § 4 Comments

I have received a complaint that I am making cancer sound too pleasant. This comes from a source close to home, who specifically asked me to discuss my recent constipation. A challenge. To be honest, the best I can do is this:

The Adoration of Captain Shit and the Legend of the Black Stars (Part 2) 1998S

This is a painting by Chris Ofili, who won the Turner Prize in 1998. Apparently, it’s a picture about lots of things – art history, the Bible, hip hop, black sexuality. and superheroes. What it’s not about is constipation brought on by anti-sickness drugs. However, like other of his works, it does feature poo, albeit elephant dung. According to the website,, Ofili has said that the important thing is to know whether art is good art or bad art, not whether it contains elephant poo. As is being made clear by these entries, I don’t have much idea of the former but I am a bit interested in the latter (sorry, Mr Ofili). So, for those of you with me, at first the poo was said to have been smuggled in from Africa, but latterly came from London Zoo and was dried in an airing cupboard.

This picture:

Holy Virgin Mary

painted in 1996, caused a huge bruhaha in New York when displayed as part of the 1999 Sensation Show. The painting depicts Mary as a black woman with an exposed breast made from elephant dung and surrounded by butterfly cutouts of female genitalia from pornographic magazines. The then mayor, Rudolf Giuliana, said, “The idea of having so-called works of art in which people are throwing elephant dung at a picture of the Virgin Mary is sick.” I quite like the idea of being able to throw elephant dung at paintings but even here I don’t think that’s what was on offer. Indeed, someone else who I’ve just found on the internet, Michael Davis, an Art Historian at Mt Holyoke College, argued that, “Ofili depicts her features and uses elephant dung to connect her in a basic way to the African earth and its people. After all, Mary is as much theirs (Africans’) and his (Ofili’s) as she is Giuliani’s…. one must move beyond the collage’s materiality… to wrestle with the concept, imagination, or spiritual expression that have brought it into being.”

Wanting to bring this back to my own pooing issues, I can only suggest that I am doing my own wrestling, albeit rather less spiritual.

(I get the feeling Mr Ofili is a bit over the whole elephant poo thing. Fair enough. He would probably prefer you to read this:

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