the narcissistic sinner:
The question of the self: "who am I?"
not in the sense of "who am I" but "who is this
'I'" that can say "who"? What is the "I,"
and what becomes of responsibility
|Warren Criswell's art is "self"-obsessed, to say the least. In The Trespasser, 1993, we see Criswell urinating on a museum installation of an ancient Egyptian temple. He has not only crossed the rope barrier separating the viewer from the space, doubly sacred by reason of being that of a museum as well as temple, but treated it profanelya double act of disrespect, all the more daring by reason of its nonchalance. Moreover, he is caught in the act by a flashlight, presumably that of the museum guard, in the viewer's position. In other words, he is in the museum at nighta third breaking of the rules. Criswell is a criminal, a transgressor, all the more so because of his everyday||
The Trespasser, 1993, oil & beeswax on linen,
60 x 48 inches
appearancethe banal white plastic
bag dropped on the floor beside him is a wonderful touch of realismin
the mysterious, awesome place. But our outrage at him, and the
darkness of the scene, may blind us to the fact that it is his
own temple that he is violating, as the giant statues of him,
flanking either side of the phallic monument, indicate.Thus, with narcissistic grandeur, the artist immortalizes
himself and his sacred art in a museum, but with comic realism
recognizes, through an everyday acta necessity of naturehis
ordinary humanity, vulnerability, anxiety, and, implicitly, mortality.