July 28th, 2006 18:13 EST
Hillary Clinton's Presidential Bust
In a move ironically premature for a museum devoted to sex, the Museum of Sex in New York will soon unveil the so-called "Presidential Bust" of Hillary Clinton, fancifully described as "the first woman president of the United States." As you can see, the image is not what could be called a conventional one. This astonishing construction is the work of the infamous Daniel Edwards, whose most recent claim to fame was scandalizing the public conscience with a large sculpture of a naked Britney Spears giving birth. Edwards knows that tongues will be wagging about his choices on this one, and much will be made of the fact that the sculpture was originally a nude study of the former First Lady, now tastefully attired in a low-cut dress of almost negligible substance.
Edwards is unapologetic, however. "Presented in a low cut gown," he says, "her cleavage is on display prominently portraying sexual power which some people still consider too threatening." Here Edwards makes direct reference to a quote from Sharon Stone, who complained that Hillary Clinton was not yet ready for the presidency because she still retained some of her youthful sexual power. It is this author`s considered opinion that this piece is extraordinarily ugly, and attracts the eye in much the same way as a bearded lady does. The sexual power of a 58 year old super villainess is too terrible a thing to contemplate, and to see it thrust into such sharp relief by a mere sculpture is disconcerting at best. As is typical with such art, contrary feelings can be accounted for and dismissed by the piece`s supporters, who would have the world believe that all revulsion is a matter of mere cringing fear. And of course, since the thing man most typically fears is that which he does not understand, it could be smugly asserted that opponents are both cowards and fools for not liking this piece of work.
The sculptor`s intention, again as is typical, is to challenge the observer`s perceptions of age, gender, and sexual potency. Perhaps this author is set in his ways, but he has long felt that it is rude to strut about challenging people`s perceptions at every turn. He does not believe, as the current artistic culture appears to, that no settled perception can possibly be correct. It is certainly a good idea to have an open mind, but it does not do to forget the reason for that open mind in the first place. The point of an open mind, like an open mouth, is to finally close it again on something solid. This sculpture, regrettably, is not solid. As an aesthetic piece, it repulses. As a strict representation of its subject, it appalls. As a political or social message, it intrigues, but ultimately betrays. Perhaps most offensive to its own context is the haphazard appropriation of the "bust genre" for such a poor purpose. A good bust is meant to be equal parts representation and hagiography, and the myth of Hillary as presented here is not one that will inspire the world`s children. A good bust should be an historical testament rather than a pipe dream, for indeed; in this sculpture both the artist and the museum have jumped the gun by the extraordinary measure of two years and likely an entire plane of reality.
In any event, if speech on this subject must be charitable, it can at least be said that it is consistent. The sort of electorate likely to rush Hillary Clinton into the Oval Office is not one that will be endowed by any excessive good taste, and the art of the time may as well reflect that.
Note: The author of this article is no longer affiliated with theSOP.