new-york

John Miller

Metro Pictures

Scatological humor is probably as old as culture itself—but in art of the ’80s and early ’90s, jokes about excrement proliferated, provoking a lot of nervous laughter. RUN FROM FEAR/FUN FROM REAR—that’s one of the ways Bruce Nauman put it. He also paired clowns and toilets to flush out the complexities of pleasure, pain, and self-consciousness that rim the act of evacuation. Remember Mike Kelley’s 1987 felt banner that blared PANTS SHITTER AND PROUD P.S. JERK OFF TOO, or the video Heidi, 1992, made with Paul McCarthy, that featured sausage turds and a sustained involvement with defecation? McCarthy’s performances take us to the compacted core of identification with disgust that, in turn, is linked with creativity. At this juncture, we find ourselves at the deep end of theory.

Given the climate of angst and obsession that percolates in the art of his colleagues, John Miller’s world of brown

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