Shark Week Reflections
Friday, August 15, 2014
Left: Damien Hirst, "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living," 1991. Right: Jill Greenberg, from her series "End Times," 2006.
Shark Week 2014 is nearing to an end (tear, sniffle). I've been watching this program since it premiered in 1988 (you could call me the ultimate fan), and I've often noticed interesting similarities between well-known artworks and famous Shark Week visuals. I'm not surprised that the mind-boggling imagery of a Great White chomping down on a seal has launched artists into a creative frenzy.
I'm super curious, however, about the origination of Shark Week. Discovery channel claims the program to be the "longest running cable television programming event in television history"! And yet, 1988 doesn't seem to date back far enough to account for the number of artists who were CLEARLY influenced by famous episodes of the popular show. A few examples:
John Singleton Copley, "Watson and the Shark," 1778. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Hmm, 1988? Let's try 1778. Because clearly Copley caught an episode of "Ocean of Fear", the story of the men overboard the USS Indianapolis in shark-infested waters.
Attributed to Alexandros of Antioch, Venus de Milo, c. 100 BCE. Courtesy of Musee du Louvre.
It's becoming clearer to me that the Venus de Milo's missing limbs weren't damaged over time, but were likely intentionally severed by the artist himself as an ode to Alexandros of Antioch's favorite episode, "I Survived: Top 10 Shark Attacks".
Left: Scary white shark! Right: Constantin Brancusi, "Bird in Space," 1928. Courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum.
Bird In Space? OR, Air Jaws???
Andres Serrano, Blood Stream, 1987.
Serrano's photograph, "Blood Stream" almost certainly inspired the episode "Blood In The Water".
Leandro Erlich, Swimming Pool, installation 2008, MoMA PS1.
I didn't think too much about the shark week reference here until I entered the bottom portion of Erlich's installation. Suddenly you are under the pool's surface. Is this not entirely about a shark's point of view?!? And extra points to the artist for touching on my most primal fear: a shark in a POOL.
Lygia Clark, "Abyssal mask with eye-patch," 1968. Photo Sergio Gerardo Zalis, 1986. Courtesy of MoMA.
Are the connections looking clearer? Artists, don't be afraid to admit that you're Shark Week fans. We all see what's going on. Shark Week Obsession: it happens to the best of us. Most especially, me.
TAGS: sharkart / sharks / sharkweek
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