The Fug Girls: Plaster of Paris

20070503paris.jpg
Photo: Capla Kesting Fine Art

Just when we thought we’d seen all there is to see of Paris Hilton, along comes the opportunity to pick through her internal organs. Brooklyn artist Daniel Edwards — the man who created the statue of Britney Spears giving birth naked on a bearskin rug — is trying to turn the pointless heiress into socially conscious modern art. Crazy? Yes. And also no.

Like a life-size, creepier version of Operation, Edwards's "Paris Hilton Autopsy" sculpture lets visitors reach into the open abdomen of a dead, naked faux-Hilton (laid out alongside her tiara-wearing pooch Tinkerbelle, of course) and play around with her spleen, liver, and other fun-for-the-whole-family innards. It's part of something called "Campaign to Rescue Women of Youth," an awkwardly named public service announcement about the hazards of drunk driving that so far seems to involve only this particular statue. (We’re not sure why men don’t likewise need rescuing from this peril. Maybe Edwards is right now lovingly carving a likeness of Mel Gibson totally starkers and with a removable hairpiece?)

Paris and art seem like strange bedfellows — indeed, possibly the only one she hasn't had before. We do enjoy the tasty irony in Edwards's killing the ickiest of the tabloid tarts, as opposed to a beloved, useful public figure. But, although that's probably meant to be commentary on a life wasted (on several levels), it's also a tad dumb. If celebrities had a yearbook, Paris would win "Least Likely to Be Missed." So why tell a cautionary tale like this by knocking off the one person everyone considers expendable? Paris herself would probably take one look at the installation and drawl, "Dude, I look great. DUI death is hot."

Still, turning La Hilton into art isn’t as preposterous as it first seems. Consider the fundamental similarities: Both can be messy and off-putting, provocative and controversial. The aesthetic value of each is open to interpretation. Each evokes strong, often conflicting emotions, and both can leave the viewer confused as to what, precisely, they mean. They can both be bought for the right price.

Flesh Paris and Plaster Paris serve the exact same purpose: to shock and alarm, garner pointless media attention, and ultimately bore us (after all, there’s only so much you can do with a fake small intestine). The line between them further blurs when you consider that Real Paris isn’t terribly lively to begin with, and Dead Paris at least has very real intentions. So that means Real Paris is Dead Paris is Real Paris — and now our heads hurt. Who knew Paris Hilton could ever send us into an existential tizzy?

Still, if we had to pick between Parises, we’ll stick with the living. There’s always the possibility that Real Paris will wake up one morning and decide to be a productive member of society. And at least she occasionally wears panties. —The Fug Girls