BUT IS IT ART? // Mascara Baby


TATI: OK, Tony, my first question. Why did you tag this illustration as NSFW? I remember ASPHYXIATION and FELLAQUIO and I can see why they wouldn’t be safe to look at if your boss stands behind you. But this?

TONY: Hm. Because of the shape of the baby’s mouth. It’s actually a rather intimate part of the female anatomy that I’ve composited there.

TATI: Oh… really? This blot? Is it a vagina? Are you kidding me?

TONY: Oh, no, I’m not kidding in the slightest. You see, this was based on the disgust I felt after watching a documentary about child beauty pageants. The crass sexualisation of these young souls by their parents was all for the sake of winning… well, what? A cheap trophy? A ribbon? Prestige? What prestige? I was deeply offended that human beings would exploit their own flesh and blood in such a deplorable way.

TATI: Blah-blah-blah… Let’s stick to the topic, Tony. So, is it a baby inside a womb? Or is it just a face with a vagina-shaped mouth?

TONY: Hey! I’m spilling my guts here, lady! Couldn’t you be a wee bit more patient?

TATI: I’m rescuing your reputation, sir. Be grateful.

TONY: Fine. It’s the latter. A face with a vagina-shaped mouth. I was honestly hoping to shock people with the blatant juxtapositioning of these two elements, and get them thinking about why they found it so offensive. In short, I wanted to provoke discussion. As it turned out, no one really picked up on these themes anyway. So, I feel this illustration was a failure.

TATI: Why do you say this?

TONY: Perhaps it wasn’t clear that the baby’s mouth was a vagina. Frankly, visual communication is an ongoing challenge for me. I guess many artists struggle with this… or maybe I’m just not a very good artist. While I may render something a certain way, it doesn’t always mean that the themes I’m trying to convey are necessarily being received and understood as I intend them to be.

TATI: It wasn’t even clear that it’s a face. I guess you needed to put the picture vertical. Then your intent would be more clear. Didn’t you think of this?

TONY: Oh, I see! The egg trying to teach the hen, is that it? Yeah, I have a Bachelor of Visual Arts. And you?

TATI: I have eyes, don’t I? You over intellectualised this illustration.

TONY: Look, you’re probably right. I’m willing to concede that. But what would you have done?

TATI: Firstly, rotate it. And… maybe some details. Streaks of mascara would emphasize two things: crying and makeup. And a pacifier. It would show that the baby is an infant. (You probably like that. A vagina sucking a dummy. Old pervert!)

TONY: What the HELL?! NO! Why on earth would I like that? I think I know who the pervert is here, Tati, and it isn’t ME!

TATI: Just do this, baby. Make the changes. And then we can ask our dear readers who was right.

TONY: Why do I get the feeling we’re going to burn in hell for this?

TATI: Want to bet?

© All rights reserved 2017

82 thoughts on “BUT IS IT ART? // Mascara Baby

  1. Pageants are bewilderingly grotesque, nevertheless a product of the times. My daughter, ever the pragmatist, tells me to think of them as simple games of dressing up and move on to something more interesting.

    I’m cheered by the playful fluency of your interaction, even the daft explanations.


    Liked by 2 people

  2. The first thing I saw was a shape within the image that kinda resembled a vagina. As my eyes worked out from there, the lines wouldn’t line up to be a vagina in it’s proper location, so I figured something else was going on. I never saw the image of the baby until I read the other comments and looked back at it, and then the babies form was obvious. As to the title of the piece, “Is it art?” I think anything can be art. There will always be people that view the strangest of things to have artistic qualities. Yet, something being art isn’t as important as having it bring forth a reaction of some kind when being viewed. If the piece gets a reaction then it’s a success.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You make a very good point actually. It’s the reaction that matters more really. Never mind if it’s art or not. That’s not what people look to art for in the first place. Not for academic reasons. They want to be made to feel something, no matter what that something is.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I seen the baby’s mouth to the left of the vagina because of where the curves meet. And I agree with you, these types of events are sexualizing kids. I thought it would stopped after the Ramsey case which is still so heartbreaking. Kids are beautiful just as they are, no contest needed. To even have them in these contests, I personally don’t know any parent that would do that.

    Liked by 2 people

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