Art is ….

Strangely, the artist isn’t the biggest wanker of the bunch.

Controversial performance artist Jordan McKenzie, 40, has made 55 images by ejaculating over canvas and sprinkling carbon over the results to immortalise them ….

…. Father Kit Cunningham, of St Etheldredas Church in Clerkenwell, said: “All we can do is pray for the artist.”

The clergyman, based at the oldest Roman Catholic church in London, stressed: “The extraordinary thing is that someone actually thought it was art and put it on at his gallery.

“We are clearly dealing with a very mixed-up person.”

Come see everything ... artistic ejaculations

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Sometimes, we respond in the moment and forego an opportunity to build something more complex than the base reaction, which may range from irony and mild amusement to shock and shuddering disgust. In this case, I went with mild amusement. And, I suppose, irony, as there seems something amiss to me about a Catholic priest—one whose livelihood depends on one of the largest creative endeavors in human history—denouncing something as unartistic.

That is, of course, the lazy route. Further consideration raises all manner of morbid questions. For answers, why not turn to the artist himself, or, at least, the Centre for Recent Drawing’s explanation of the exhibit, which opens as I write this, and runs through February 1:

During the last decade, McKenzie has produced a significant body of work that includes performance, installation, drawing and sonic art, all of which is notable for its brave and often shocking use of the body to explore taboo and push the boundaries of what is acceptable.

This latest series of drawings, collectively entitled Spent, is no less controversial. Referencing the universal themes of procreation and creativity, these works are produced using human bodily fluids: the artist ejaculates on a sheet of drawing paper and covers it with a layer of carbon dust. When dry, the excess dust is removed, leaving a black imprint of the spurted semen.

Signed and dated, the images collectively become an acknowledgment of human futility in the face of time as well as a violent record of male sexual drive. Caught and frozen as black-on-white eruptions, these simple auto-drawings plot desire, libidinal drive and sexual economies whilst powerfully evoking mortality and the will to overcome its inevitability. Each one has both an aggressive, chaotic imprint and a fragile delicacy that complement the medium, adding to the body of work by various artists that explores and articulates the notion of the artist as (pro)creator. On a more humorous level, they also subvert this, becoming an ironic take on the machismo of action painting by reframing it in a hyper-sexual manner.

On the upside, I suppose that’s more comprehensible than the guy walking ’round Britain with a rock.