Riga, Latvia -18 Feb. 2009- Staff. Art judges in the Latvian capital granted top honors to a sculpture made entirely of human excrement at the final ceremony of a three day long festival of modern art put on by the University of Riga.
The sculpture, which stands approximately 6 feet high, is the work of 33 year old Latvian artist Ivars Jansons, who intended it to be a commentary on modern consumption. “Rarely do we think of where all that we consume goes,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “Now you see, whatever goes in the system, the result is the same.”
Jansons has a history of pushing the envelope, even among the avant garde. Previous exhibitions have included everything from dead animals to live subjects recruited from brothels and elementary schools.
While many spectators raised a wary eyebrow at the piece as they filtered past, judges were enthusastic. Dr. Juris Balodis, speaking during the awards ceremony, praised the work as a “seminal expression of postmodern discontent,” which “singlehandedly encapsulates the marked duality ensconced by the Western culture of consumerism and waste.”
To make his striking, if pungent, sculpture, Jansons collected excrement from nursing homes, hostpitals and prisons in and around Riga for nearly 3 months. He then strained the material through a grate and into an old horsecart. Lastly, Jansons says, he sang the pile a different pop culture tune every day at exactly sunrise. “You are what you eat, you understand,” he quipped.