Arts & Entertainment
2 min

La Petite Mort is Golden

Detail from Morning Piss, part of La Petite Mort's Golden exhibition. Credit: benjy russell

When you hear the word “golden,” what do you think of? The Jill Scott song? An era of splendour and beauty? A town in British Columbia? No one would blame you for going to these respectable stand-bys.

But when the founder of La Petite Mort Gallery, Guy Bérubé, asked visual artist Zachari Logan to create an exhibit called Golden, he meant something more along the lines of a golden shower. You know: piss, urine, piddle.

Logan, a gay visual artist based in Saskatoon who has a love and curiosity for the human body that shines through in his work, enthusiastically accepted the gig. This group show will be one of his first curatorial undertakings.

“It was [Guy’s] initial idea,” says Logan. “He said, ‘Do you think you’d be interested in curating a show on the theme of piss?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely!’ One of my favourite artworks is actually a piece by Andres Serrano — Piss Christ. A version of the Piss Christ was destroyed with a hammer recently in [Avignon] France. Some religious zealots came in with a hammer and smashed it on the wall. So, it’s sort of interesting to have this show going up around that time. I’m doing a little bit of an onsite performance piece that references that happening.”

At the same time, Logan understands that piss isn’t the most accessible topic, given that most people do not want to explore or celebrate the processes of the body. He says he plans to make the show more effervescent and approachable than Serrano’s seminal work.

“I was interested in the idea of play and playfulness,” says Logan. “Having a theme such as urine or piss, things can get really bogged down. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. My thinking, right off, was that I wanted this to be really fun. I think fun can also be political, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be weighty, if that makes sense? I certainly didn’t come at this with the idea that I wanted to create a show that would alienate anyone. I wanted it to be an inclusive visual experience.”

One of the most interesting pieces that will appear in the show is a gorgeous and surreal photograph by gay artist Benjy Russell, who lives in a residential artists’ community called Sassafras, near Liberty, Tennessee, which he co-founded with three other artists.

The image is of a chainsaw, covered with butterflies, seemingly suspended in midair in a verdant forest. Called Morning Piss, it was created after Russell and his fiancé got into the habit of peeing off their front porch every morning — which, they noticed, gradually attracted more and more butterflies. They gave an old chainsaw the same treatment for a couple of weeks and then suspended it to see if it would have the same effect. Wouldn’t you know it? The butterflies fluttered onto the scene in a weightless swarm, charmed by the smell of their morning piss. Click. Moment captured.

“I hope that the show is well received,” says Logan. “I certainly hope that people don’t come in with hammers and break everything! For me, all of the work in the show is somehow figurative — it’s about the body and bodily functions. Even if there isn’t physically a body present, it’s all in reference to it. It’s very interesting to me, the idea of a show on something so basic and yet so uncharted.”

Logan’s closing sentiment on the exhibit’s printed invite pretty much says it all:

“We are all fountains (figuratively and literally). Not of youth, but of piss, and this exhibition explores the beauty of that cup flowing over.”

“I’m trying to open a door,” says Logan. “If people want to walk through, they can.”