The Corrections

Serious injury—or at least a dirt stain—threatens on a tour through three anti-art shows

McCarthy has said he counted on producing about 1,000 Santas a day (more than he could reasonably expect to sell, even at the modest price of $100 apiece). But inventory was running a bit low last week, as the factory awaited another shipment of Artforums to shred, and as word of the project seeped out. Samples of broken Santas were offered at the front desk, and though the chocolates (whose manufacture is supervised by Peter P. Greweling, a master chocolatier of the Culinary Institute of America) are luxuriously rich, it's debatable whether people buying them as art will actually eat them.

Urs Fischer's pit stop at Gavin Brown Gallery
photo: Ellen Page Wilson
Urs Fischer's pit stop at Gavin Brown Gallery

McCarthy, the veteran California performance and video artist who looks a bit like a deranged Santa, has said that in the past he's used "dildos, knives, motor oil, milk, butter, cotton, dolls, wigs, masks, and every type of hotdog condiment known to man" to make his reliably alarming art. Here, the shock value of the work resides partly in what Santa is holding—a form that looks vaguely like a Christmas tree but that has also shown up in a monumental bronze sculpture McCarthy made a few years ago, called Santa With Butt Plug. (And what about the chocolate Santa's large bell, hanging beneath his jolly belt?) But the greater subversion by far is the cheery metamorphosis of fine art into commercial enterprise, with this desacralized icon of childhood and materialism at its center. Full disclosure: I bought one as a holiday gift for a friend, an artist obsessed with the archival preservation of his work. But I'm still wondering if it's naughty or nice.

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