ART | From in the high or down the ocean

Thursday 31 March 2011

Barton Lidice Benes' book Curiosa is definitely on my wishlist. One of my art lecturers bought it out for my friend Ashley at college as part of a project we did based on the British Museum - it has to be one of my favourite art books. It's one of those books that you can look at for hours, and keep finding new things. A compilation of his massive collection of objects ranging from weapons to the toenail clippings of celebrities, and relics ranging from the religious to the AIDS-obsessed. He began collecting after the death of a close friend from AIDS, and from there the collections grew. People now send him objects that they believe he might be interested in, varying from celebrity based (he has one celebrity's urine) to historically significant objects like coins and artfeacts from ancient times.

His work was once banned from exhibition in a gallery because it featured his own HIV-positive blood inside various weapon-like opjects - it was deemed a public safety hazard and his blood had to be boiled (literally) before it could show. Benes found this incident fitting to the concept of the exhibition 'Lethal Weapons' because it was derived from an incident when he cut himself in his kitchen, and began frantically clearing up as if his blood could literally do him harm. The book is a great addition to an art library or just a coffee table read (though some parts might want to be read before coffee!) Definitely worth a read.

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