Saturday, August 24, 2013

Paul McCarthy & Damon McCarthy, "Rebel Dabble Babble" @ Hauser & Wirth

The show is a collaborative work between Paul McCarthy and his son Damon based on the making of the movie Rebel Without a Cause, during which, rumor has it, director Nicholas Ray slept with some of the cast. I like Paul McCarthy. I was, trying to remember shows of his I’ve seen, I recall his work at the old New Museum when it was in Soho and the show where he made Jeff Koons dis pieces by making his own versions of Michael Jackson and Bubbles, but I somehow don’t remember his work being so focused on the scatological. Now the work seems almost exclusively aimed at giving voice to an old man with some issues, acting out shit porn. Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the show or that I have a secret affection for shit porn. I simply remember the work as more absurdist and angry than as fetishized as the scatological elements make it here. I also don’t remember the sex being as graphic, but again it seems like he has hit a peak in production value with the to scale houses in the gallery, so I guess he clearly has the money and status to pursue whatever he wants in his art. To his credit, he does cast himself in a less than flattering light as the philandering director, so he isn’t hiding from some of the more unflattering aspects of the work. As long as you’re not offended by its graphic nature, this is a rather impressive spectacle, which does make one suspect that popular culture has corrupted more than one mind and made us all, some down-years away from wearing facial prosthetics and simulating shitting on a young naked woman in a bath tub.

Oh, and when I first saw Paul McCarthy’s work as an undergrad, I thought it was Paul McCartney’s, and I was so impressed by how much edgier he was than most Wings albums would lead you to believe. Oh, and I totally forgot James Franco! Love him, hate him, I am gonna come out and say it, I love James Franco. Come on, the man has taken his fame and money and not staged large art projects where he pretends to shit on people. Instead he has become the most awesome cultural tourist since George Plimpton, wandering the earth appearing in art by people I like, Laurel Nakadate, David Benjamin Sherry, Harmony Korrine and now Paul McCarthy. I didn’t make it through all of the James Franco video, but it didn’t look like Paul McCarthy was gonna shit on him. He ends up playing McCarthy‘s version of James Dean, which adds an extra level of surrealism to the work because James Franco’s first big movie break was starring as James Dean in a biopic. Still, I would like to think Franco would be down with McCarthy faux-shitting on him, because that’s how I imagine he rolls.

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