There’s nothing really that controversial about Marc Bradley Johnson’s art project, but the School of Visual Arts MFA student’s final piece Take This Sperm and Be Free of Me — i.e. 68 vials of his own semen — have been confiscated as a biohazard. Apparently, there are some risks involved in freely dispersing your sperm to strangers over Craigslist. “I’ve been working on this for months,” the artist explained. “Somewhat ironically — it’s just masturbating and calling it artwork.”
Somewhat? Right, buddy. Sure, it’s crass and simplistic and Johnson, former Mormon seen above mid-Jesus Walks mode, is bombastic, but it’s not like it’s entirely shallow. Johnson says his art project reflects on “creation, parenting, desire, masculinity, fantasy, and reality” and his plan eventually is to procreate anonymously: “I am interested in eventually finding a stranger to have a child with me.”
SVA’s director of environmental health and safety John DeLuca told the artist that “the distribution of human tissue, or in this case your sperm cells, whether dead or alive is not permitted by the law outside of a medically directed facility” and “in checking with a biomedical scientist I was informed that there is no way to ensure the sperm samples would be 100 percent free of pathogens.”
“While I try to do absurd things, I’m not interested in doing reckless things,” Johnson complained, arguing that he would even be careful with his next step of microwaving his sperm no more than eight-seconds to avoid bubbling over.
“This isn’t unprecedented. There is plenty of bio-hazardous work in the art world.” Indeed.
Then, of course, it’s unlikely anyone popped open that $181,374 Piero Manzoni can of Artist’s Shit. Or licked Marc Quinn’s blood-sickle head. Or picked Duchamp’s ejaculate off his satin canvas.
Relax. It’s just an art supply. To engage with the project, you are not obligated to touch, frolic in or otherwise bodily interact with a total strangers’ sperm, especially when they offer it to you for free. But that’s not just art. That’s life, bb.