The present contretemps which has the world winding its collective panties into a wad is over the mistreatment of an Hermes leather purse belonging to one Miss Francesca Eastwood, the daughter of spaghetti western star and classical music appreciator, Clint Eastwood. The pert young Francesca is also Tyler's girlfriend---unsurprising, since he is not only the hottest photographer and sly documentarian of hip Young Hollywood, but he is also a bit of a charming rogue himself.
Who knew that simply chainsawing, burning and biting a leather handbag would create such enormous public outcry?
The furor of course isn't that a handbag was destroyed, but rather that it cost 100 thousand dollars, and destroying the bag meant 'destroying' 100,000 dollars.
Such shameless waste! Gasp! Good Lord!
The photo series is almost like a bit of fluxist art, based solely on the reaction that the world media is having to it.
All over the place, millionaire newscasters and media personality are beating their breasts in public over the reckless display and disregard for money. "Money to Burn" seems to be the most popular declamation by which to title smart savage little articles on the three photos:
Even Time Magazine's normally erudite coverage sounds a little bloodthirsty on the subject.
Whats a purse when youve got money to burn? Francesca Eastwood and her photographer boyfriend, Tyler Shields, are facing a firestorm after producing a series of artworks in which they take a red crocodile Hermčs Birkin handbag versions of which sell for $100,000 slash it with a chainsaw and light it on fire.
The photographs have prompted rage from all corners of the Internet. Go and work for a living and see if you burn a 100k bag. Hell you wouldnt even be burning a 50 dollar bag. That is NOT art losers, posted one user on Shields website. Many users were upset, pointing out that the money could have gone to someone in need.
Of course no one seems to be even questioning why a purse that costs 100 thousand dollars exists in the first place.
Would it be legitimately better if Francesca had used the same bag to store tubes of lipstick, emergency feminine products, cell phone chargers and half full bags of sunflower seeds?
And of course, therein lies the irony that forms the real intellectual basis of Tyler's arch and ongoing expose of the sybaritic nature of life for the glamorous subsection of the 1% that is limited to perhaps two thousand people who live in the highly privileged strata reserved for Young Hollywood.
But no one seems to be noticing Tyler's wry intentionality.
excessive pursuit of fleshly pleasures
Synonyms carnality, debauchery, hedonism, sybaritism, voluptuousness
Related Words venery, wantonness; greed, rapaciousness, rapacity, ravenousness; dissipation, gluttony, immoderation, intemperance, self-indulgence
Antonyms abstinence, asceticism, sobriety, temperance
The anger generated seems to be directed at his work for defacing the carefully imagineered images of the super wealthy, super glamourous that the rest of us would prefer to believe in.
After all, we like to make believe that the wealthy, ----you know, the moral wealthy---- spend their time buying fabulosity, but balancing that out with generous donations to various causes whose sheer multiplicity is so great that they verge on dubious.
Whenever there is any hint whatsoever that the use of wealth might be as meaningless as it often is, people go nuts.
We don't seem to mind it when a wealthy celebutante blows a couple of hundred thousand dollars on a cocaine infused bender weekend--to the contrary, we often sympathize and hope they get the help they need.
But destroying a purse? Well thats just gaudy.
No one understands this better than Tyler Shields.
Whether he is filming Tamara Ecclestone nude save for a million english pounds or photographing his close friend Lindsey Lohan in various stages of recklessness, he not only knows how to push the public's buttons, but he also knows that what fuels the attention is the underlying sybaritism available to the ultra wealthy.
Even so, he felt called upon to apologize-----which he did with typical razor sharp irony, using the same 100,000 dollar amount as a fetish to be offered up for sacrifice.
From USWeekly Magazine:
"The Birkin photos are for sale. If somebody were to buy all right, let's do this. If somebody wants to buy one of the Birkin photos, I will donate $100,000 -- not to a charity -- but to a family. I will give one family in need $100,000 cash," he says in a Tuesday interview with artinfo.com. "I would select somebody who my father had a stroke when I was 15, and it became very difficult financially for the family, so I think I would do that. I think I would find a family that someone had a stroke or some type of ailment. I think that if somebody had done that for us when that happened to me, it would have been like a miracle. So, I'll find somebody who that just happened to and I will help them out."
Read more: http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/birkin-bag-burning-tyler-shields-to-donate-100000-to-family-in-need-2012305#ixzz1x98p8eyl
Sure it is generous, but it puts the onus on his critics. If they want to see that much money used for a good cause, then they have the option to purchase the photos themselves. Gotta love the chinese finger trap involved in his offer.
The only bright spot in the whole controversy is that the only people who seem to understand Tyler's inherent criticism of the grotesque display are his subjects themselves.
My personal favorite development is the way that one of Tyler's long time friends and favorite model/subject, Emma Roberts gamely rallied to Tyler's side to daringly push the envelope a little further.
She posed for a shoot with Tyler during which she eats the same hundred thousand dollar amount.
The photos are meant to underscore the same ennui soaked point: That 100,000 dollars, which would make most of the world feel wealthy at last, is literally meaningless to part of the world. A very small, very wealthy, very glamorous part.
It is a handbag. A meal, the price of a photo.
People are angry because they clearly get the message that is silent but implicit with every photo: The money belongs--- in Kierkergaardian amounts--- to people who can rub life changing amounts of it in most of our faces.
And it is clear that most of his willing photographic subjects are intimately aware of both the context and the meaning of his work.
It makes you kind of glad that they at least seem to 'get' the unspoken power of the ideas behind Tylers body of work thus far.
Tyler is an ongoing part of the Reality Show, "Mrs. Eastwood and Company". Check out the episode teaser to get a feel for the dynamic young couple
Nose tweaking on a cosmic scale is a pretty fine Jacksonville tradition. Going back to the Van Zant boys naming their band after Leonard Skinner---a coach/dean of boys who actively stood against every thing they represented thereby making his name synonymous with rock and roll globally, and Tyler is definitely carrying that torch forward.
Now if we could just get him a show in his hometown.
Article by Stephen Dare
Images by Tyler Shields