Last week Metro Pictures opened a show by the artist Andreas Slominski, best known for his previous work involving traps for mice, birds, dogs, etc., that was about sperm. Sperm was mostly the medium and sperm was even the title (“Sperm”). Just sperm! One room had a few scattered sandals, with the semen of a black panther on it—Sperm of a Black Panther (2012). The show really aims to get your attention in the first room, where you’ll find Sperm of Two Pilots (2012), said sperm high on the wall, just above a stack of hay.
Alexander Ferrando, who works at Metro, gave me and my editor Andrew Russeth a tour of the space during the opening and you know what? Sperm is kind of annoying to wrangle. I call it sperm because this is the term Alexander told me the artist prefers, in our GChat about the lengths the gallery went to for this show. A nearly unedited transcript of our conversation follows:
me: well let’s start off by talking a very little bit about the show itself. can you give us an overview for our readers? andreas has placed human semen on the walls of the gallery, panther semen on a sandal in another room and bull semen in a demarcated section of the big room at the back of the gallery. am i missing anything? there’s the horse semen in its fake vagina in the room with the bulls too, i remember
af: There is also sperm on an adolescent-sized flip-flop in “Sperm of a 14-year-old Cowboy” as well. While of course the actual substance, material on the walls, floors and artificial horse vagina is semen, it’s important that we focus on the little sperms contained in the semen as they are what Slominski is really interested in. So if we could use “sperm” instead of “semen” for the rest of our conversation?
me: no problem! i feel like everyone will prefer that anyway
so the gallery obtained most of the animal sperm, i understand it?
non-human animal sperm, i mean?
af: Yes, the gallery obtained the sperm. Slominski lives in Germany so there would have been a great deal of obstacles to overcome in terms of shipping the ejaculate to the US.
To go back to your initial question, the artist didn’t “place” the human sperm on the walls. Men were asked to come to the gallery and they actually ejaculated directly onto the walls or on the flip-flop.
The dates you see on the wall texts are the dates the men, and in the case of “Sperm of a Mustang,” ejaculated.
me: wow i actually didn’t realize that about the men, i thought the placement was just meant to be suggestive of that. so how did you (or he) find the two pilots? and the cowboy?
af: No, that’s as authentic as it gets. In “Sperm of Two Pilots” the two men actually stood on top of the haystack while masturbating in order to have their “marks” unexpectedly high.
We found everyone via Craigslist
me: where does the cowboy live? in the tristate area?
and would you happen to have the wording of the ad handy?
af: He does live in the tri-state area.
Several ads were placed as a matter of fact.
Let me quickly look them up
me: oh thanks!
af: Okay. Here’s the link: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/cas/3264719859.html [Tragically offline now it was in Casual Encounters and here's what it said:
Gallery Seeks Man to Ejaculate Tonight - w4m (Chelsea)
Chelsea gallery needs a man to come in tonight after hours and ejaculate onto our wall. You will be completely alone in the room and we are happy to provide you with "encouragement." Should be comfortable being photographed from behind while masturbating but your face will absolutely not be included in the picture, just your back. Again, the camera will be triggered by remote so you will be completely private.
Your semen will be included in our forthcoming exhibition (the photo will only serve as documentation)."]
me: wow! to the point
af: Yeah, when we were more ambiguous I just had to respond to too many questions
and quite a few people started to get a little kinky during our exchanges.
This was straight to business and I managed to avoid some of that as a result
me: how’d you manage to find the pilots and cowboys specifically? i remember andrew said slominski had definitely wanted to get pilots
af: I’ll tell you but it really shouldn’t be published… [An amazing OTR story follows. Sorry.]
me: gotcha. moving on. so uh. “encouragement.” playboy?
af: No, I got everybody hooked up with a laptop to watch whatever porn they’d like
except the last guy
and that’s a funny story
me: do tell
af: Well, I took him to his spot, which Slominski had marked on the floor with blue tape, and put an old macbook in front of him, to which he said, “i’m not really a mac guy”
“can you get it going for me?”
Of course I obliged and pulled up the videos of his liking
He did say, “Y’know, I’m not a fag but I love things up my ass!”
I smiled and left him to get to work
Half way through he called for me. I assumed he was finished but his underwear was down and he so plainly said, “It’s not loading.”
Indeed, that old Macbook couldn’t handle the HD video
me: that sounds fairly awkward. haha, i’m not sure i understand the “fag” thing. he was stating a porn preference?
af: I think he was just talking about what he’s generally into.
Or he identified me as gay and wanted to relate?
me: so they ejaculate and then what? you’re ready to display?
af: Yes, but Slominski had very specific ideas about where they should be and how close each “mark” should be and then he very carefully lit them
me: the lighting was very good! okay so moving on to non-humans. how’d you get the black panther sperm?
you were telling me they’re endangered, right?
af: Yes, it’s a Florida Black Panther and they are endangered. We were fortunate enough to work with the Director of the South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation who donated a wide variety of endangered animal semen samples to us for the show.
me: really? what other kinds?
af: None that were used in the show
me: might i ask, out of curiosity?
af: of course
okapi, jaguar, mandrill, something called banteng
me: you’re just making these up
af: i swear!
me: why was this zoo so forthcoming with the sperm?
af: The Director was just incredibly helpful but I do remember when we first reached out someone at SEZARC saying the philanthropist had two passions: the arts and wildlife
me: why did slominski decide to go with the panther, over the others?
af: The ambiguity of “Black Panther.” I think a fair amount of viewers believe that it’s from a member of the Black Panther Party.
Also, the color, black, directly corresponds to the four black flip-flops that make up the piece “Sperm of a Black Panther”
and relate back to “Sperm of a Black Man and a White Man” in the first gallery
me: right, a few people i spoke with at the opening saw that ambiguity. so let’s talk sperm storage. did you store all the sperm together? could you store the black panther with the bull?
af: All of it was stored in fridge actually. Since we didn’t need the sperm to stay alive there wasn’t a need to freeze them. There was a box of boar sperm with “do not refrigerate” on it that I had under my desk for a few days there…
me: so boar i’d forgotten, if it’s in the show. did you use boar?
af: The boar isn’t actually in the show, but was used in works that are currently on display, but not part of “Sperm,” in our upstairs gallery.
The upstairs gallery was closed during the opening reception but is currently open to the public.
me: and how is that displayed again? is that the one in the painter’s bucket?
me: why can’t you refrigerate that?
af: Not quite sure. It was “fresh” not frozen, which means a boar ejaculated and immediately overnighted to the gallery.
me: huh. good service! and how much did the non-donated sperm cost?
af: Surprisingly inexpensive. [OTR discussion of prices, but here’s a link to Cattle Visions, America's Premier Multi-Breed Online Semen Distributor, that sells units of bull semen for about $30]
me:so how did slominski deterimine how the bull semen should be distributed in the big room downstairs? or where the men should ejaculate?
af: He sent plans ahead indicating exactly where he wanted everything to be. He did apply the bull sperm to the floor once he arrived in New York with exacting precision, using syringes
me: and when we say that most of the non-human sperm was stored in the fridge, not like the fridge where the gallery workers keep their sandwiches, right?
af: Actually, yes. I was on vacation and a colleague let me know when the first of it arrived saying “the semen is here and next to my strawberries.”
me: Your dedication to art is astounding
af: All in a days work!
me: haha. okay last question: is any of it for sale?
af: yes, it’s all for sale except “Sperm of a Black Panther.”
Well, that work is for sale but you cannot make profit from endangered animals
any earnings would be donated
to a charitable cause
me: right, i remember the difficulty with the rauschenberg bald eagle, though this is admittedly different. so if i was to buy the bull semen room, would slominksi come to my house and recreate it with a syringe? how would he recreate the pilots on the haystack?
af: Well, Andreas wouldn’t recreate it himself but we now have the resources to obtain bull semen and there were expert assistants that worked closely with him during the application process.
me: well it sounds like you’ve all been involved enough
“Sperm” by Andreas Slominski runs to October 27. All images courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures.