Last week, Marco Evaristti made the geyser Strokkur erupt in pink, and the general population of Iceland went nuts. Even though the food colouring he used had completely evaporated four hours after the offending act, the Chilean artist was subject to a barrage of hate from a veritable army of internet-connected Icelanders and Icelandophiles (sample comments: “You are not an artists, you’re just stupid criminal,” and: “Six words: Get the fuck out of here!!!”)
Interestingly enough, the Icelandic/Danish artist Ólafur Elíasson has gotten up to similar antics in the past—tainting various rivers and streams with food colouring in the name of art—without anyone telling him to go to hell. If success is measured in shame, Marco is a greater artist than Ólafur. And if fame is measured in hatred, Marco is surely Iceland’s most famous artist at present.
Indeed, the kind of vitriol he has inspired of late is often desirable in the world of art, where the name of the game is not only to innovate and inspire, but also to shock and attract attention. I well remember another of Marco’s pieces, Helena, which he premiered fifteen years ago at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts to a similar reception. For that one, Marco installed ten blenders filled with goldfish, which the viewer had the option to pulverize at the push of a button.
This is Marco’s art. He has put food colouring in a frozen Norwegian waterfall, and he has fried meatballs in his own fat, canned the results and put them up for display. He constructed a scale model of the Auschwitz/Birkenau gates from the gold teeth of Jews. And then some. As an artist, Marco Evaristti is hugely challenging, and actually rather clever. At a time where the public is very rarely shocked by art, Marco seems to have mastered the form.
I have to admit that I don’t quite understand the nationwide fury over the temporary Pink Strokkur piece. Is Strokkur a sort of national clitoris that the artist brutally abused? Why the outrage?
If people are so concerned about Iceland’s nature—if they object so harshly to foreigners who come here to have their way with our “Lady of the Mountain”—I recommend that they join Landvernd, the Icelandic Environment Association, and stop voting for parties that prioritize heavy industry with all sorts of terrible, irreversible consequences. I think that would be more effective.
But of course it is easier to talk out of one’s asshole through the keyboard. And then vote once more for whatever corrupt idiot who promises to give everyone free money in the next election.