The layman's standard critique of modern art for many years was to simply state that their 'five year old could make that.' Early into Dash Snow's new book God Spoiled A Perfect Asshole When He Put Teeth In Yer Mouth we are faced with a similar notion when the work Penis Envy asks 'How much talent does it really take to come on the New York Post anyway?' This is written in bold type on a 40 x 73 inch inkjet print that is set in a lightbox and, of course, is covered in semen.
Snow has put lots of his spunk to work in collage, much of which winds up doused in glitter. Newspaper front pages and cut photos get his fluid treatments with an attitude which seems to be demanding his own control over current events. A cut out of Saddam Hussein gets royal treatment placed near someone's cock. This IS partly why I like some of what he does. I see the work as being about the uncaring, indulgent, immature and contemptible nature in Dash Snow towards the world outside of his drug-induced arty hamster nest. He is after all the runaway that turned his back on the Menil family money and can clearly see how his work is being speculated upon by art dealers - perhaps because they think the chances are good that, unless he cleans up, he'll OD on heroin and they'll make a killing. He's their ace in the hole. Their Basquiat of jizz and glitter.
So meanwhile he will turn the pope's face into a twat. He'll present a triptych of photos: cooking a shot of heroin, a toilet full of unflushed drug packets, and a bookshelf with a human skull, a gun and stacks of cash. He'll appropriate a porn photo of a man coming onto a woman's face and reproduce it in monochromatic magenta at 50 x 71 inches (Edition of 3 + 2 APs). He'll make a series of collage sporting crudely applied strips of reflective rainbow tape over the genitals of bound nude women from 1960s bondage mags. He'll take a polaroid of his friend's asshole. And alongside that he will make some great collage that will cause envy - penis or otherwise.
Clever word play through cut and paste newspaper clippings are one tactic and surrealist imagery another. A woman's face turns into a brooch while the whole ensemble, one step removed, signals a fuck you. The contempt towards the viewer is hardly veiled like the book's title screams. Another forms human torsos into an exclamation point topped off with the back of a man's bullet riddled head. The title: Eat your money and die!
One piece called Kennedy Assassinated is a collage that features a Los Angeles Times newspaper from November 23rd that features a photo of Kennedy taken about one minute before the infamous shooting. Snow has added colorful loops and curves of color blossoming out of the back of Kennedy's head that bring to mind the cheerful graphics of a Milton Glaser. This is what is a bit intriguing about Snow, he jumps to use obviously provocative material (cultural icons, religion, porn) and then cleverly seduces with a mixture of expectation and surprise.
Unfortunately his messages, although clever on the surface, seem almost cliche with adolescent angst lashing out at the world. The piece that I find most embarrassingly illustrative of this is Bird's Nest which features a nest of twigs within the center of which sits a few blue pills. The best of Snow's collage feel impulsive and open-ended but as soon as he tries to make things precious, like putting his his large photos in frames or the bell jar that houses this nest piece, it all starts to feel forced. The amateur proudness that keeps it all together (with sperm) fades.
Art can often seem masturbatory and after sitting with this for a few weeks it has become mostly tedious. I return to the same few brilliant collage pieces that resonate but as handsome as this book can seem, at $140 dollars I think most people will feel like they've just been fucked. And what is worse, they weren't even given a courtesy reach around. Leave that to the book dealers who'll be constant fluffers at the ready with this book in hand and dollar signs in their eyes.
God Spoiled A Perfect Asshole was published on the occasion of his show at Peres Projects in Los Angeles and the show itself, by way of installation photos, is also the center of attention. Production stills from his film Penis Envy, a super 8 film of men tossing seed onto the New York Post, open and close the book.