I live a quiet, petite bourgeois life. For example, the other day I was taking a taxi to the hospital for some tests, and the driver asked me if I was a doctor. Maybe my clothes or haircut prompted the question. If I’m noticed at all, I prefer to be seen as mostly harmless, just as the earth is described in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I need an orderly and low-key life in order to work. I was a sensitive child.

Perhaps the goal of art is to be fascinating. Beauty may not be necessary, but it is a good hook. It seems though, that the frightening and disgusting can also be fascinating. The choice might just be a matter of taste. I’m easily disturbed.

In the 1970’s, artist Mark Prent had an exhibition at the Isaacs Gallery in Toronto which included life-like human body parts made of polyester resin placed in chest freezers. It didn’t do much for me. Life produces more than enough distress all on its own. I don’t need to go looking for more.

I felt I was being manipulated into compartmentalizing my disgust in order to deduce the presence of a clever intervention of a political, or art historical-formalist-aesthetic nature. And since I didn’t discover anything of the sort, I wasn’t sold. When I brought the subject up with a fellow art student, it was apparent that my opinion lead her to the conclusion that I must be stupid – presumably because I found it disgusting. We’re all entitled to our opinion.

Image: Steve Armstrong, untitled planet tab painting, acrylic on paper with brass nails, c. 14″ x 11″, 2000.

(I don’t find a tab planet disgusting, if anything, it’s kind of pleasant.)