Andrei Molodkin, the renowned Russian artist who made transition from ball pen sketches to three dimensional crude oil sculptures is now planning to go a step ahead and make the very crude oil from human corpses itself and use it for his sculptures. The artist has always been fascinated by cycle of life and death. After having worked as transporter of oil in Siberia during his soldier days he continues to see the world caught in the never ending cycle of Oil. It is the crude oil which comes from decades of decay of organic life form that finally sustains human life on this planet. There can be no human life without energy of oil. Crude oil is the main issue of world politics, economics and all the wars too. His art of using crude oil has been a global political statement as well.
However Andrei Molodkin’s main realm of exploration has been Death. He began sketching human skulls with ball pens while serving in Soviet Army. Later he created body parts sculptures with crude oil. But his latest thoughts and plans about extracting crude oil from human corpses and transforming the oil into an artistic form of sculptor is truly dark, scary but fascinating. He has finally not only conquered the fear of ultimate inevitable reality of death and finiteness of life but has also dared to make death of a human being immortal.
Human beings have always been buried, incinerated, fed to vultures after death depending on the dictates of various religions. Essentially life form gets reduced to basic elements of the planet. No one really knows what happens after collective atoms which form human body get dispersed. Death is the final full stop. A human life, a thinking loving person becomes formless and gets totally erased. But now Andrei Molodkin has given us another choice. To get transformed into a lifeless art form and become decorative pieces of our drawing room. He has found volunteers too for his experiment.
Artists have indulged in death art. Human bones, animal bones, teeth, animal horns, furs etc have been displayed as creative art forms. But mostly it has always been impersonal usage of body parts. One wonders if Andrei is truly conquering the inevitable death or mortality by giving a new form to a dead person. Can death be truly immortalized as an art form?
The true essence of a living person is not the material or the atoms he is made of, it’s the thinking, feeling and emotion part which forms the identity. That identity remains in the memories of people one relates to when alive. Man’s creativity and work too immortalizes him. This mad urge to deconstruct and reconstruct physical death seems equally futile. Instead of turning a corpse into carbon or other atoms Andrei’s plan of reducing it to crude oil and then pouring it into a mould to create art is nevertheless another deconstruction of Death.
Andrei Molodkin may have attracted controversies thanks to his plans to immortalize human beings by converting their bodies in to crude oil which could be used in art. However, this very idea of using the human body as an art form is a need which was not fulfilled for a long time. Perhaps, the human body is the most mysterious of everything around us. Our own bodies, but we know not whether they have a life of their own. It is immensely easy to explain the dynamics of human body and mind.
It is easy to say that the brain controls and commands organs to function, move or throb in a certain way. However, the ones that gave these convincing explanations would know that a lot about the human body still remains mysterious. One can control their environment, but strangely, their own bodies are beyond their control. The secrets that the human body holds may never be unraveled and artists like Andrei may seek to find an explanation for something that can’t be explained. Artists and scientists have desperately tried to explain the human body aesthetically and mechanically. Unfortunately neither gives a meaning nor explanation to this body that is so part of the self, yet so distant and strange.
If blood had to be alluded to oil, it represents the modern world’s obsession with crude oil and fuel, both of which are dwindling. Perhaps, a few hundred years ago, such a thought would not have occurred. Body then, would have been a medium to seek the supernatural. Thus, the human body became the canvas for tattoo artists, for face painters, for designers, and now for Andrei, to immortalize the human body in a lamp or in a sculpture. Bodily fluids according to Andrei know no boundaries and are the same, whether it belongs to that of a militant or the president of a nation.
In the end, the reduction of human entity to a pile of organic fluids can be devastating to the human psyche. This very fluid is reduced further to crude oil, which is what modern warfare is all about. The disgust and fear associated with one’s own and others bodily fluids and innards are a reminder that the human body is similar to that of an animal’s. This realization hurts the ego and denial sets in.
While artists like Andrei continue to explore the connections between human minds, art, bodily fluids, death and the supernatural, humans continue to stay in a state of denial, and accept that they are their bodies. This identification with one’s own body and the associated inability to control or understand the secrets and mysteries of the human body can be alluded to the collective human conscious’ inability to understand the greater mechanisms of the tangible world.