Blood pulses out of freshly hacked flesh in puddles. Bikini-clad girls sip champagne and giggle in high heels as rivulets of the red stuff splatter perfectly on their bitching bods. Fast-cut closeups of their cleavage, their asses, their glam sunglasses, and of the beer-bellied man sprawled in the center of the kitchen, getting his legs chopped off. The girls dance belly to belly in a doorway, a lopped foot stuffed in the bra of the blonde.
This is not a Hollywood slasher flick, nor a snuff film. It is art. It is viewed in a museum. It is Wild Gone Girls, a short video by artist Paul McCarthy. Part Texas Chain Saw Massacre, part Gilligan's Island and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the video is a paean to the culture that gave rise to titty-flashing videos, and a shocking yet humorous look at the absurdity of violence.
McCarthy explains the work as a "pirate movie." Set on a horrific houseboat, the video is gruesome and revolting. Although the viewer is aware that the blood is nothing more than corn syrup and food coloring, and that the body parts are plastic, the images are as disturbing to watch as the carnage in Fallujah or Gaza. Yet the nightmarish piece is absolutely hilarious.
In a filmed interview, McCarthy explains that he had no intention of making the massacre look real. Its artifice, he says, draws attention to the inhumanity of violence, whether it be institutionalized or the random work of a maniac. Ketchup, according to McCarthy, says it all.
Wild Gone Girls is just one of the works featured in "Point of View: An Anthology of the Moving Image," a stark exhibit of eleven short films at Miami Art Central (5980 SW 57th Ave., Coral Gables). Each film was commissioned for the traveling show, which originated at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Works by artists Joan Jonas, Isaac Julien, William Kentridge, Pipilotti Rist, and others explore the outermost realms of perception with allegorical imagery.