marco evarissti: art visionary or batshit crazy?

Marco Evarissti’s work brings up a question that will never be answered: what is art?

As long as artists provocatively push the boundaries of societal norms (especially if they’re funded by government agencies, giving the public a supposed right to dictate the acceptability of what’s created), there will be criticism as well as kudos. Well-known public controversies over Robert Mapplethorpe’s “pornopgraphic” photography and Damien Hirst’s Butcher Shop series (where various animals, sometimes in pieces, are displayed in huge formaldehyde-filled boxes) gain attention too often because of the public’s sensationalist reactions rather than the actual question of how we interpret art. Penises! Must be porno. Dead animals! Ew, gross. Velvet Elvis! Everybody loves Elvis…

Recently I’ve been following Chilean-born Danish-based artist Marco Evarissti. He received major criticism in 2004 for his Ice Cube Project. I’m not sure what’s going on up in Northern Europe. Whatever it is, it’s encouraging people to paint stuff. Big stuff. Big outdoor stuff that doesn’t typically get painted. Dutch artist Henk Hofstra was generally applauded for turning a city street into a river of blue, but that looks like a Kindergarden project next to Evarissti’s outdoor paintjob:


The picture pretty much speaks for itself. Homeboy painted an iceberg. A whole iceberg! Explaining that we “need to decorate Mother Nature, because it belongs to all of us”, Evarissti took off for Greenland’s Ilulissat Fjord with 3000 litres of red paint diluted in seawater. Then two icebreakers and a 20 man crew took 2 hours to paint the ‘berg. Some people celebrated his anti-pollution statement, and others were horrified. How can he claim to be making an honest statement on the environment by polluting it?

Most people in the Western World, knowingly or not, patron companies and support products that cause enormous ecological damage. So is a little more damage all that heinous if it’s making people aware of the problem? 3000 litres is a drop relative to the pollution caused by oil companies, and when was the last time you were in a car? What if I told you the paint was vegetable-based, fully biodegradable, and didn’t create any permanent environmental impact – would that make it better?

So that’s probably the least controversial thing Evarissti’s done. He first gained notoriety in 2000 for an exhibit at the Trapholt Art Museum in Koldig, Denmark featuring live goldfish in 10 blenders. Could it have been a statement on the collision of nature and technology or how humans perpetuate animal abuse? Perhaps. But the fact that the blenders were plugged in changes all that. The exhibit clearly advised people that the blenders worked and they were invited, if they chose, to turn them on.


The statement is in the dare. If given the chance to blend a fish in public, would someone be demented enough to actually do it? One man did and two goldfish were killed. After that, local animals rights groups went apoplectic. The police intervened and demanded that the blenders be unplugged, even though the installation remained (minus the two dirty blenders). The Museum director, Peter Meyer, was charged with animal cruelty but later acquitted.

So how ’bout them apples? If you think that’s fucked up, you probably don’t want to read what Evarissti got up to next.

In 2007 he opened an exhibit at the Animal Gallery in Vitacura, Chile featuring 48 meatballs cooked from his own fat. After under-going liposuction for the work, he claimed that the meatballs are “not only delicious but lower in fat than supermarket meatballs”. Some of the meatballs were packaged and offered to art collectors. A can of 10 sold for US$40,000. The label on the can featured the artist lounging naked, liposuction wounds clearly visible, and the name “Polpette a Grasso di Marco” (meatball with fat of Marco).

At the exhibit’s opening he served a plate of pasta with one $4000 Marco meatball to friends saying “The question of whether or not to eat human flesh is more important than the result. You are not a cannibal if you eat art.”

Art or psychosis? You decide.



  1. Wow. This artist is controversial in his excecution, obviously, but what’s most rattling are the ideas behind. Pretty sick.
    Pretty amazing.


  1. […] Quinn has long-since gone to an extreme of using his physical body as material that would make Marco Evarissti proud. Quinn’s famed 1991 work “Self” is a frozen sculpture of his own head, made […]

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