14 anthropometric blocks of human excrement from Indian cities New Delhi and Jaipur are on display at London’s Lisson Gallery. The modular blocks were collected by Sulabh International Social Service Organization under a sanitary initiative and have been formalized in this exhibition by provocative and often scandalous Madrileño artist Santiago Sierra.
The human waste was collected by many Indians who were obliged to do so under some karmic belief that would redeem them from their sins of their past life. The collection was eventually mixed with mud and exported to England.
This exhibition has been interpreted as an original Santiago tactic on shedding light onto the most inhumane situations in the world.
Sierra has a history of jaw-dropping “live” exhibitions: he has paid people to masturbate in public; he once invited Germans to wear gas masks and walk through what used to be a synagogue, smoked with fumes from the exhaust pipes of cars.
I enjoy this type of live art — although concocted rather simply, they have a strong and disturbing impact; the type that keeps you thinking way after you have left the exhibition.