It could feasibly be argued that I'm turning into an old man at 20 given the way I react to some things these days. I thought I was pretty liberal, but sometimes I surprise myself. With this in mind, one of the main reasons I like the Californian Justine Lai's project Join Or Die is that it can be cheeky and provocative, but not so much that the paintings cause offence, or leave you pissed off for the rest of the day. No gratuitous bell-ends, no casual vagina and most importantly no kids with dildos for noses. No, I'm sick and tired of that kind of stuff, only there for shock - no artistic merit whatsoever. What am I meant to say at a Chapman brothers exhibition? 'Great, you went to the trouble of putting a cock on the face of a child mannequin.......so?' I can tell I'm going to get terribly sidetracked here - it's time for me to 'get my fuck on' as the late Tupac Shakur once put it, and so eloquently too. So without further ado: Fuck you, Chapman brothers.
The same goes for Gilbert and George. Fuck you, Gilbert and George. How in the HELL did they get so successful? Am I so sad and boring that I can't see the funny side of two creepy old guys blowing up colourful photographs of each other's wilting genitals and calling the works things like Blood, death, shit, semen? Well really.
Lai started Join Or Die in 2006 with the aim of painting herself having sex with every US president in chronological order, and it works. It's amusing, different and attractively and skillfully painted too. Furthermore, there isn't any unnecessary genitalia, which would ruin the charm of her work. Yes, they're actually nice to look at don't you think? God I sound old. Fuck that too. The following innuendo-laced quote is indicative of Lai's way of teasingly fingering the boundaries of good taste without feeling the puerile need to bend them over and force-fuck them (think Gaybert and Gay and and the Gayman brothers*)
"I am interested in humanizing and demythologizing the Presidents by addressing their public legacies and private lives. The presidency itself is a seemingly immortal and impenetrable institution; by inserting myself in its timeline, I attempt to locate something intimate and mortal. I use this intimacy to subvert authority, but it demands that I make myself vulnerable along with the Presidents. A power lies in rendering these patriarchal figures the possible object of shame, ridicule and desire, but it is a power that is constantly negotiated." - JUSTINE LAI
*Had to do that to make myself feel less old.