Selected Articles
September 9, 2003
Vancouver Sun
Karen Romell
Austrian conceptual artist Gottfried Helnwein
Body Alteration: Tattooing and piercing, once shocking, are now merely generational signposts in a culture that constantly redraws the line between acceptable and disallowed behaviour.
The bizarre and squirm-inducing self-representations of Austrian conceptual artist Gottfried Helnwein - the guy who likes to puncture his cheeks with surgical instruments - are so disturbing that municipal councils have sought to ban his work. But these are depictions of pain that make sense, given the intellectual and moral framework of Helnwein's personal and political past. The odd bureaucrat might question his motivations, only to be instantly shouted down by a chorus of art critics and intellectuals who can think of thousands of cogent, intelligent reasons why Helnwein's work matters. Still, the few members of the bod-mod community who actually talked to me took the moral high ground. Logic alone indicates that one person's Pamela Anderson is someone else's Lizard Man (Eric Sprague, a man who has, over the last few years, obsessively pursued his desire to become a human lizard via tattoos, teeth-filing, etc.) In a free society, the body's canvas is something an adult person should have complete mastery over.
Self-Portrait
photograph, 1986
The last Days of Pompeij I
photograph, 1987
Ecstasy of Saint Theresa
photograph, 1987




back to the top