After giving us the Paris Hilton autopsy, Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug, Oprah as an Egyptian royalty and a “dead” Prince Harry, Edwards has taken up the visage of Michelle Obama and … well, it’s kind of meh.
Edwards said: “The goal is to create a look for Michelle Obama that eliminates excessive comparisons to Jackie Kennedy.”
The bust, entitled “Michelle Obama’s Makeover for America” goes on display at the Leo Kesting Gallery in New York on October 1 …
Molding her as an Egyptian queen with a bald eagle afro pick and “magic boobies” with the American flag carved across them I felt this was a fail for Edwards.
As I told reader Brett Thursday night, this art wasn’t meant for any of us to actually like. It’s supposed to evoke a response or challenge the audience. In that sense, his greatest success was the piece he did on Prince Harry. It was “successful” because he achieved his goal — to shock people into the realization that they’d become “desensitized” to from the Iraq War while insulting the monarchy for being some ultimate form of celebrity culture married with religion and nationalism.
Denigrating pop starlets and their offspring — like Paris, Britney and, in one case, the fake, bronzed poop of Suri Cruise — is like miming a more morbid version of Andy Warhol and his famous fifteen minutes.
Long story short, the Michelle bust isn’t denigrating enough to fit in with the pop starlet exploitation and isn’t shocking enough to fit in with jarring visceral response of a dead prince. There’s something almost romantic and tragic in Edward’s depiction of a real English prince, lost in the field of battle with coins on his eyes to pay for his cross over the river Styx. In his hand, Harry is clutching a cameo of his mother, another powerful symbol, Princess Diana of Wales. It invokes a response, especially in the finished version of this piece where Harry’s ears are severed off as prizes for those who killed him.
It was daring because that could have happened, especially since Harry did go on to serve in Afghanistan, albeit secretly, until he was found out. And it’s exploitive because it shows how the world cared dearly if the man third in line for what is largely a ceremonial British crown was killed, but other soldiers’ deaths are footnotes at the bottom of newspaper columns. The sculpture showed how obscene celebrity culture can be when met with the reality of our rapidly changing world.
The Michelle bust looks like a high school art project. It’s not good in the way Edwards would want it to be. He’d want something that would get people talking or protesting. I gather most will either think it’s funny or shrug.