SWAP AND GO ORGAN FAIR (2003)
Marketti Biennale, Helsinki Kunsthalle
Curated by Annamari Vänskä
Funded by Finnish Art Association
In 2003, Puha took the idea of a shop of gendered characteristics further. He created a shop that analysed the contemporary concerns and obsessions with appearances. This installation is divided into different departments, which sell internal organs, limbs, torsos and facial parts, such as Madonna’s beauty spot or the heart of a desired film star. Here, the visitor is asked to discuss their ideas of beauty with a beauty consultant. In other words, in this work, entitled Swap and Go Organ Fair, Puha continues his analysis of the centrality of images and commodity culture in our identity formation. This time around, he is especially interested in celebrity culture and in how it affects our beauty and gender ideals.
The installation offers a range of cloned celebrity film stars’ body parts—for example a selection of biceps from Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the installation, Puha turns these body parts into imaginary brands such as Brad, Tom, Sylvester, and Arnold. In the installation, the sellable body parts of celebrity film stars, who are considered to embody the beauty ideals of our contemporary culture, make a pointed comment on our culture’s obsession with appearances, which the images of the Hollywood film stars embody in visual representations circulating in mass media. However, the installation also raises the more serious topic of bioethics. As the name Swap and Go Organ Fair suggests, the installation invites the viewer to think, for example, about transplantation consumerism and the socio-economic contexts, in which organ harvesting and even illegal organ trafficking and transplantation occur in contemporary culture. Annamari Vänskä,Phd. Full text Desperately Shopping for Emotions, Bodies and Identities is available in the the book Tero Puha: Almost Human (Works 1995-2010)