The Spanish / Mexican artist Santiago Sierra has managed to create another piece of tasty bait for the media, with his exhibition of human excrement at London’s Lisson Gallery. The 21 blocks of shit each measure 215 x 75 x 20cm and was collected by “scavengers” in New Delhi and Jaipur, India.
“Workers of the sanitary movement Sulabh International of India are mostly scavengers who, by birth, have to undertake the physically and psychologically painful task of collecting human faecal matter, being charged with the blames of a previous life of bad deeds.” Santiago Sierra
There’s a message that the artist wants to get across, which could be honorable or mocking, depending on which side of the fence you choose to sit. The optimist in me sees an artist highlighting the exploitation of a group of people that need a hand up. The cynic in me sees an artist doing something shocking for the sake of publicity (exploiting the media). The humorous me sees an artist shitting on the floor of an upmarket art gallery and laughing at those that take it seriously (exploiting the gallery and public).
I couldn’t figure out who was exploiting who in the end. If the objective of the exhibition was to get a lot of attention, it was a success, as I saw that most of the mainstream media publications had their fun with the story. It’s not something I would go and see though.