Natasha Lushetich

Publications

Paul McCarthy, Chocolate Santa, 2014.
Paul McCarthy, Chocolate Santa, 2014.

Kitsch is often seen as the denial of shit. Kitsch excludes from view everything that is unacceptable in human existence. In Paul McCarthy’s oeuvre, there is no such dichotomy. For forty years, his scatological work – wallowing in shit, pissing on food, fucking mayonnaise jars, walking on broken glass, re-coding revered artworks as trash porn, and dropping huge piles of shit on cities – has dissected the violence of positivity. This article suggests that McCarthy’s 1970s performance work, his 1990s interactive architectures, and his 2010s automated environments articulate three distinct stages of this violence: libidinal, participatory, and automated, as enmeshed with the spectacular, experience, and information economy, and the aesthetics of the interesting, the zany, and the cute (Ngai). Pinpointing the devastating working of the late-capitalist symbolic order-disorder—an order that perpetually disorders—I argue that McCarthy’s oeuvre articulates the passage from biopolitics (Foucault) to smartpolitics (Han).

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