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Friday, March 28, 2008

I Didn’t Know 20/20 Was Still On the Air

posted by on March 28 at 16:56 PM

Two weeks ago, 20/20 did a story on local artist Ariana Page Russell. Russell has a skin condition called Dermatographia. She uses her own skin in her art, but not in a yicky Goth kind of way. The reporter for the segment asks the most annoying questions in the universe, but it’s an interesting subject. Ariana (who once posed for a salacious Party Crasher photo for me, years ago) is terrific, as is her work.

(Thanks to Slog tipper Maggie.)

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I don't see beautiful or interesting or disgusting. I see weird.

But if she can sell it as "art" for 4500 and up, more power to her and her suckers.

Posted by Wolf | March 28, 2008 5:15 PM

@1, it doesn't say $4500 and up, it says as much as $4500. They found the highest price label in the gallery and latched onto it. It's sensationalist TV for chrissakes.

Posted by Emily | March 28, 2008 5:45 PM

I actually saw that 20/20. And now I can't remember why I was watching it... anyways, I didn't really get it. I mean, I thought it was interesting that her skin did that, but, that was about it. Nothing about the art interested me or moved me or made me think. So... yeah. I didn't see it as terrific, but I guess that's why art is subjective.

Posted by Julie | March 28, 2008 6:40 PM

I was done with this at "uses her own skin in her art"...

Posted by Will/HA | March 28, 2008 7:20 PM

Yea Ariana! Fuck all these "I dont get it" people... Every artist uses what they have at their disposal--whether theyre crazy fucks or have weird skin issues or can render shadows really well. Its great to see a Seattle Artist in the National Press...I give her mad props and all you assholes should be happy for her...

Posted by MadDog | March 28, 2008 7:48 PM

I actually have several comments I could make about this chick and her 'art' form...but all of them are offensive and vulgar.

I didn't notice her sterilizing her implements. One day her 'art' work may become permanent do to scaring... or she may lose her 'canvas' entirely to flesh eating bacteria.

Posted by yucca flower | March 28, 2008 9:47 PM

Man, you guys are brutal.

There are a number of points to make here. First, 20/20 is a tabloid news show that has set out to make a story about contemporary art that my fat uncle in Iowa could find interesting. So the points they tried to make are not necessarily the most insightful things that could be said about Ariana's work. (To the average 20/20 viewer, the fact that anyone anywhere would exchange hard-earned money for contemporary artwork is mindblowing!)

Second, @6, there is no need to sterilize her implements, as there is no physical penetration of the skin involved. The histamine skin reaction is the result of VERY GENTLE pressure with a knitting needle...less forceful than a scratch with a fingernail. It's not any more invasive than, say, combing your hair or wearing clothes.

Finally and most importantly, the fact of the matter is that Ariana makes good work. The thing that makes Ariana's work interesting to me isn't anything mentioned in this clip from 20/20. If it were just about turning a freakish skin condition into gold as they make it sound, it would be shallow and gimmicky. But a fact that does not come across in the broadcast is that the color effects naturally produced by Ariana's immune system are actually quite beautiful. It might be difficult for some of you jaded Slog-commenter types to grasp, but some things aren't good because they're clever or hip...they're good because they are beautiful. And sometimes beautiful things are weird, but this is mostly because WE'RE weird.

To me, the very condition of being a bag of flesh and blood and bacteria that has THOUGHTS and IDEAS is weird as hell. Ariana's work reminds me that we are only flesh and blood and ideas...and that all of these things are ultimately as fleeting as her ephemeral drawings.

Posted by Emily | March 29, 2008 11:36 AM

@6 - She doesn't need to sterilize her instruments (a blunt knitting needle) because its not breaking the skin in any way.It's just touching her.

I actually have this as well. Every time I have an itch I have to try really hard to not scratch it because if I do my skin looks welted. And like Ariana said, everyone asks you what is wrong and it gets embarrassing because you don't even realize its happening.

Posted by Alexis | March 29, 2008 1:35 PM

the fact of the matter is that Ariana makes good work

Opinion, disagreed. But if people want to pay her for it, they can certainly knock themselves out.

Posted by Wolf | March 29, 2008 4:23 PM

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