Magister Ludi (8): Craptions

By: Patrick Cates
June 29, 2010

While Yves Klein was imposing the monochrome and The Void upon a baffled French public in the late 50s and early 60s, his Italian analogue, Piero Manzoni, was causing similar consternation in Milan. He signed his name on naked women, he sold balloons full of his breath, and he made gallery-goers eat hardboiled eggs that carried his thumbprint. In his short career full of gestures like this, Manzoni laid another cornerstone in the nowadays fully constructed and deconstructed edifice of Conceptual Art. Marcel Duchamp had flushed modern art down the existential crapper thirty years before; Manzoni, seeing a bangers-and-mash mess of turd and toilet roll still stubbornly holding its ground, gave the toilet another flush. And no metaphor for describing Manzoni’s impact on the art world is more appropriate than a scatological one, since his most famous work, Merda d’Artista (1961), comprises 90 cans of his own shit.

In the picture above, Manzoni brandishes one of his cacky cans with the satisfied grin of a newly toilet-trained toddler. We can’t read the label on the can but the setting of the photograph tells us everything we need to know. At some point, we are invited to infer, Manzoni has curled one down and sealed it hermetically for the benefit of the art buff. But there is a Schrödingerian corollary to this inference: does the can actually contain his shit? Until it is opened we’ll never know.

With which short scato-philosophical reverie, you are invited to supply a caption to accompany the picture. Manzoni looks out at you with a certain Mona Lisa mystique. Whose toilet is this? What’s really in the can? Why are his pockets so large? Consider these questions the waste products of a digested thought dinner and allow them to inspire your search for a craptional nugget.


The rubric:

  1. As Lusor Ludi, your job is to formulate a caption that adds meaning, nonsense, seriousness, humour, commentary, or some combination of all, to the image.
  2. The Lusor Ludi who concocts the funniest and/or cleverest and/or most absurd caption, as judged by me, will be crowned Victor Ludi.
  3. The Victor Ludi will win a copy of The Idler’s Glossary (signed and personally dedicated by co-author and editor, Joshua Glenn).
  4. Lusores Ludi should add their captions as comments to this thread by 9PM EST on Sunday 11 July .
  5. There is no limit to the number of captions that each Lusor Ludi can submit.