Research Output
Art is Shit
  This is a performance, a documentation of a live event at the Edinburgh International Festival fringe. CODI Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, is a unique public engagement event, combining serious academic research with irreverent, down-to-Earth discussion, and a dash of comedy, at the world’s largest arts festival.

My performance was provocatively titled ‘Art is Shit’ inspired be Piero Manzoni’s Merda d'artista.1961 (90 tin cans each reportedly filled with 30 grams of his own faeces). It raises a variety of questions about what art is, about its relationships to the art world and the art market. The basis of this performance is not to see the art object or artist in isolation, this can, and in most cases is, misleading, but to comprehend the art within a narrative that better explains the artwork, and conceivably understands the art from a new perspective, both theoretical, and practical.

The performance was designed to be entertaining and enlightening, bringing together contextual information to better understand the role of art, and in particular conceptual art. In the performance, I outline key, and controversial artworks, including, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain 1917 (this urinal inspired artists to reconsider traditional artwork.) and Richard Prince’s Instagram series 2014 (outright plagiarism or real art) I hoped to illuminate audiences with evidence, to better understand the subject, stimulate curiosity and encourage debate, being careful not to deliver an academic lecture my script balances, information, surprising conections, and entertainment.

As the CODI rules are no audio visual material, I used photocopies of artworks to illustrate and visualize the narrative. Audience interaction was encouraged by requesting them to predict auction prices of conceptual works, an original Art is Shit t-shirt was awarded to the nearest correct answer. This prize giving, focuses the disparity between a work of art, as a genuine statement, and the financial art market. fundamentally the performance encouraged members of the audience to think critically about a world which is often only referred to in the media in terms of its price or shock value.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    12 July 2019

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


O'Donnell, R. Art is Shit. [Performance]. Performed at Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, Edinburgh. 12 July 2019 - 17 August 2019. (Unpublished)



Performance Art

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