Much as Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase was the icon of the 1913 Armory Show, Darren Bader's Guacamole French Horn is the centerpiece of last weekend's Frieze Art Fair on Randall's Island. Visitors to the Andrew Kreps Gallery booth there could dip their chips into an endless supply of guacamole, gurgling out of a gorgeous (and expensive) French horn.
Young Bader, a kind of Gabriel Orozco in diapers, has been featured in a recent New York magazine photo spread as a "hot artist" and fawned over by my pal Andrew "Voice of His Generation" Russeth in the New York Observer. What Bader represents is the code of juvenilia to which much contemporary art has been reduced, high-priced Cabbage Patch Dolls and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, refashioned for spoiled collectors, always longing for the next present under the Xmas tree.
In this pursuit, Bader manages to trivialize, in one vulgar artwork, all sorts of esthetic nobility, starting with the most pristinely beautiful, in form and tone, instrument in the orchestra, the French horn, filling it with edible shit. Bader, of course, also mocks the message of loss in the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres (a lover dead from AIDS cannot be substituted by an endless stream of candy) by filling collector bellies with avocado mush.
The participatory element of dipping chips into a messy horn of plenty nicely mocks the spending of collector dollars and the whole piece so resembles an overflowing toilet as to neatly, yet unthreateningly, reference Duchamp's Fountain, and, not to stretch a point too distantly, Andy Warhol's Taylor Mead's Ass.
So why is Bader not some kind of genius for inspiring me to come up with all these associations from the shiny well of classic contemporary? Because he dumbs everything down without any subtlety or true wit to underscore the message of all Bader's practice, that "he don't give a shit." So why should you give a crap, especially when, at Frieze, you are eating it?
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).