Do you have a lot of fetish photographs lying round the house and an internet connection that would allow you to download pictures of celebrity faces? Bet you wish you had, because then you could be a significant artist like Ben Westwood.
Yesterday, in a basement gallery at the top-end of Brick Lane, Westwood opened his latest exhibit, Spawn: Bound, a meditation on famous people's children. “Their offspring are the reproduction of that original fame,” says the blurb, "fame that still acts as a flag post in the hill, but which has created a generation of children bound by their parents' fame. Impossible to be free of. Forever entangled. Spawn: Bound.” Exciting work indeed.
Arrayed alongside Peaches and Pixie were their fellow fruits of famous loins. We had:
The Jagger half-sisters, respectively sired by Bianca Jagger and Jerry Hall.
And on and on. Not exactly Picasso, is he? Oh actually, wait a minute...
Looks like he is! Even better, in true Martin Amis style, Ben has even inserted himself into his own work. Like this...
Didn't you take note of that last name? It's “Westwood”, as in Vivienne, his famous mother. He is "Bound" too!
So Ben has used his family name as a platform on which to comment on the vacuous nature of talentless kids profiting from their family name. Interesting bit of postmodernism that. Much like this picture of Ben with his namesake.
Clutching the leash of a Jack Russell in one hand and a bottle of Corona in the other, the artist fielded questions from the entire press corps: me and a German TV station.
“There's sort of public interest at the moment in celebrities and their children,” he decreed, before mumbling something about a "rockocracy grown up of the children of pre-internet celebrities." If only Peaches or Pixie had been here to hear this inspirational stuff--it was wasted on my non-famous DNA.
Vice: Have you ever hung out with any of this celeb brat pack?
Ben Westwood: I met Peaches Geldof once. She was doing a reading at my mum's manifesto. She was very good. When she left the paparazzi were waiting for her outside. It was kind of like a game for her, to try and run away from them.
Vice: Where do you find the actual face images?
On the internet.
Vice: Do you read Heat or whatever?
Vice: Have you ever done anything this arty before? I mean high art?
There isn't a lot of high art around so I suppose there is an art element, in that this is stuff that is normally hidden away, and I'm bringing it out and making it my own into the mainstream. I mean, what I'd really like to do is make this fashion. I mean, I'm trying to promote fetish things more into the mainstream.
Vice: Do you have strong tastes in art? Schools or artists you follow?
Technology, I suppose. I was thinking the other day that the last really artistic thing I was interested in was putting a man on the moon. That was really artistic.
German Telly People: Brit-art?
Well, I'm not saying that it's Brit-art, but it's as artistic as any art and I'm British.
German Telly People: Do you foresee any negative reaction?
German Telly People: So you didn't set out to be controversial?
No. I think I've worked in the fetish scene for long enough that it's not really controversial in terms of what I do.
German Telly People: If any of the subjects objected, would you take their picture down?
No. I don't think so. I don't think anyone would object. It's not meant to be derogatory. It's mean to be as colorful and as fun as possible.
Eventually some fetishists arrived with some of the original models for Ben's pieces, like the girl in the middle of the picture below. She seemed quite proud of having leapt salmon-like over the porn barrier back into the art world.
By 8 PM, it was all starting to turn a bit hallucinatory.
But on second glance, that just turned out to be former Tory Agriculture minister John Selwyn Gummer.
This guy may look a bit wack, but he's actually a trustee of the National Gallery. The Alpha Centauri dress sense is because he's been beamed back here from the year 2525 to come and save all of this art for future generations.
Right now, Ben's artworks are priced to sell at over £1,000 a piece. We'd love to analyze their exact worth given the post-boom micro-economic conditions in the 2k9 art market, but instead this seems like an opportune moment to offer up our own composition. It's dubbed, quite simply, quite elegantly, “What If Ben Westwood's Mum Was a Doctor?"