Nov 1, 2011

REVIEW| Modart Highbrow. Lowbrow. No Brow.| Harlan Levey| Gingko Press, Inc.| 2011

Modart HighBrow. LowBrow. No Brow by. Harlan Levey (Cover)

I entered the library nervous in hopes to find a book that would hold my attention. I am not a reader of academic subjects, because I find them “stressful, dry, and holding with a lack of imagination”. I browsed the new books, and to my surprise and delight I spotted on the lower shelf MODART: Highbrow. Lowbrow. No Brow. Creative action = active creation. I flipped through it a bit and saw art in MY language, and decided to read further.

The book deals in what it calls “mousse art,” or the art of shit. The elements of which are the following:

9 elements of mousse art (as explained by Harlan Levey)

• Is Informed and Innocent
• Involves the community at large
• Assume squatting as a healthy position

• Expresses freedom and radiates joy

• Speaks Of Social Illness and Wellbeing As Movement

• Works With What It Can Salvage

• Deals With Real issues, Real Risk, Real Sorrow And Real Beauty

• Activates Emotional and Intuitive Intelligence

• Has no Predestined form, Besides That of Mousse

Mousse art is called shit art because it’s borderline ridiculous, for a given the definition of border. It’s almost as though Dada and Contemporary art had a baby, and for some reason its homeless. It finds beauty in the absurd, and the absurd in the beautiful. Taking it too seriously defeats its light hearted purpose. Often it is not beautiful, and when you see it you might say “that’s shit.” It’s upon a second look that the child like simplicity of the work becomes touching yet universal, and your mind changes to say, “That’s the shit.”
Explained By. Abner Preis

When you look at chocolate mousse, it looks a little bit like shit, but it tastes good. Mousse art is the same, though you can’t taste it, it just makes you feel good in some primal, knuckle dragging, rude, ten year old boy piece of your brain.
Abner over De Vinci, Abner over Baccus, Abner Preis

Part one of the book is called Mousseism and places this movement into an art history context. It makes comment on beauty’s place in art, making reference to Duchamp’s fountain as ready-made mousse, and Leonardo De Vinci’s Vitruvian Man as a break-down of a perfect circle, straight lines, anatomy, and math. Abner uses many canon works of art as bases for his own work on which he makes mousse commentary such as his Abner over Bacchus where he takes a work of Caravaggio and points out the un-pretty obvious a drunk man eating fruit with peaches that look like ass. It’s pointing out that which only children would have the guts to say, or perhaps a person who’d had too much to drink and left filter at home.

Foetuses Playing Cards (Whoever Wins Gets Born), David Shrigley

Part two of the book is entitled Real Fiction and is comprised of groups who create so called mousse art, and its many iterations in the real world. There are eighteen groups and individuals listed with a short statement and a series of images that collectively bridge the gap, between what is highbrow, and what is low brow to create universal no brow: The Mousse.

- Megan McAnelly


Contributor said...

I was really interested in this topic but I feel like it was cut short. I wish you would have kept going about Part two a bit more!

-Alyshia Maynard

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