Andres Serrano

Andres Serrano
June, 1997
p. 126

We all remember from adolescence the kind of boys who drew penises on their desks. Even then we weren't shocked; we just wondered when they were going to grow up. Like them Andres Serrano still hasn't learned that attention doesn't equal achievement.

Serrano wouldn't have gotten so far it his photographs of corpses or of sacred images immersed in urine hadn’t had some esthetic merit. Unfortunately, this is not the case here with "A History of Sex." While the series chronicles a number of kinky sexual situations, it elicits about as much artistic and erotic interest as the photos in a Sears catalogue. Most of the subjects have been stiffly posed against a backdrop of blue sky and clouds. There is a Japanese woman bound and gagged, someone urinating into someone else's mouth, a woman holding a horse's penis, as well as two photographs of nude, noncopulating pairs: an old man and young woman, and an old woman and young man.

In addition, Serrano's use of his medium isn't engaging. Cibachrome prints with their uniformly saturated hues, tend to look like Cibachrome prints first and art second, unless the photographer uses the medium judiciously—as Serrano did by emphasizing just a few colors in his Piss Christ (1987). Given that images depicting the dark side of sex have become commonplace, the only thing that distinguishes Serrano's is that they are bigger than most. What is surprising about these photographs is that they're boring. And that, we can be sure, was not his intention.

-Carol Diehl