NEW YORK - A life-size sculpture of a naked Britney Spears kneeling on a bearskin rug as she gives birth will be on display next month at Brooklyn’s Capla Kesting Fine Art gallery.
The sculpture is to appear next to a display case filled with anti-abortion materials. It was created by Daniel Edwards, who said he never spoke to the 24-year-old pop star or met her, and fashioned her face and figure from photographs.
Photographs of who, Scarlett Johansson and Demi Moore? This guy's clearly got a subscription to Vanity Fair. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But at least to me, Britney is not the one who comes to mind here.
“I admire her. This is an idealized figure,” Edwards said Tuesday in a phone interview from his home, which is near his studio in Moosup, Conn.“Everyone is coming at me with anger and venom, but I depicted her as she has depicted herself — seductively. Suddenly, she’s a mom.”
You know, I almost buy this. Sure, there are lots of jokes to be made about this sculpture. For example:
--I recall there being a period between Britney's "seductress" and "mom" phases; I think it was called the "She let herself go in a disastrous way" phase;
--If Britney and K-Fed are the new spokesmodels for making babies, then maybe we should reconsider castration;
--That doctor sure has a kinky way of delivering a baby;
--Did Edwards have to wear latex gloves for protection while sculpting this?
--Britney can't tell if she's coming or going!
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah...were it not for the anti-abortion material put next to it, this would simply be a provocative sculpture. Instead, it's a provocative sculpture depicting what looks like a really painful birth (or bowel movement) as proof that life is beautiful.
“We also got calls from Tokyo, England, France. Some people are upset that Britney is being used for this subject matter,” said gallery co-owner David Kesting. “Others who are pro-life thought this was degrading to their movement. And some pro-choice people were upset that this is a pro-life monument.”
Does anybody like this sculpture? I'll admit that I do, and not because it turns me on; unfortunate positioning aside, it's just a well-done representation of the pregnant human form. Then again, it's all about the angle; I might feel differently if I could see behind it. Anyway, it doesn't look all that much like Britney.
“Pro-lifers normally promote bloody images of abortion. This is the image of birth,” he said.
That's really the problem with the pro-life movement: the obsession with birth and death. Both are nasty processes! If they really wanted to celebrate life, a seductive sculpture of a 2000-era Britney would have sufficed nicely.
When Edwards was asked why he creates art that generates publicity by selecting subjects hyped in the media, he said: “You’re bombarded with these stories. And there’s a thread that winds back to the art. That’s not a bad thing. People are interested in these topics, and it works for art as well.”
Can I make one thing perfectly clear about the abortion issue? NOT EVERYONE WHO HAS A BABY IS PRO-LIFE. Believe it or not, pro-choice people do breed and, in fact, love their children as much as anyone else. The movement isn't about hating babies or promoting abortion; it's about choosing whether or not you are ready to engage in one of life's greatest responsibilities, that of parenthood. I would bet that most pro-choice people are, in fact, anti-abortion. This is because progressive people are able to separate their own personal beliefs from those of the whole. Case in point: I don't drink, but neither do I think alcohol should be illegal. Some see childbirth as a burden (and, wishing to avoid bringing a child into a rotten life, terminate a pregnancy as soon as possible), while others see it as fate and accept it. Whatever works for you, you know?
Asked whether he’s anti-abortion, Edwards said, “You nailed me. I’m not saying that I am. I wouldn’t march with either pro-life or pro-choice advocates. This is not meant to be political.”
When I ran an entry on a high-school classmate of mine who died in Iraq in September 2004, I was accused by some of exploiting his death to further my own beliefs on Iraq. Which I don't think was true, because I had been saying those things long before that incident (and I've always supported the troops). But it's true that you're taking a risk when you take someone you don't know (or whose politics you don't know) and twist their actions to fit your agenda. Especially with a public figure, it seems like a bold thing to do.
Still, Britney's probably pro-life. After all, she trusts Dubya. And she has always been the posterchick for that bizarre sexual-virgin dichotomy that's a trademark of the Deep South. So maybe this isn't as big a risk as it seems.