Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
March 30, 2006

Your Turn: Britney Pro-Life


Yes, it’s (just about) Friday — and I can’t wait to see where you take this one.

The other two views are here and here.

Here’s a short background summary on this right wing masterpiece.

Here’s a link to the gallery exhibition.

(image: Capla Kesting Fine Art)

  • tuffy

    Paint it metallic gold and put it in the Gotti’s living room.

  • Dick Durata

    My hat remains off to Attaturk for his” rel=”nofollow”>take.

  • tuffy

    “is purportedly an idealized depiction of Britney in delivery”
    This is a monument topro-life? Seriously? No irony intended?
    Has the creator of this… thing… ever once witnessed a human female giving birth? Would it even be possible for a human to give birth in this position, working so much against gravity?
    Is Britney Spears really the mother we want to idolize? For me personally, the image that I will forever associate with Britney Spears and motherhood is this:,1,18314,00.html
    Really more like a nominee for a Darwin Award than an icon of maternity.

  • rchsod

    ok this guy is full of crap…just reading the gallery statement makes me hurl. did britless actually give birth in that position while on a rug she was fondling? i won`t mention the srene expression on her face. think britless will buy it and put in here living room?

  • e27

    I love it. It’s great art.
    Giving birth is ugly. You piss yourself. You crap. You scream. But it’s beautiful too because it’s part of the miracle of life.
    I love that it’s Britney Spears. I love the bear.
    It’s done so wonderfuly. It’s so daring. I love the artist’s sense of humour.
    I really like it a lot.
    The pictures themselves are annoying because we most of all want to see the baby coming out, but they weren’t honest or adult enough to show that.
    Also I think people are unnecessarily mean to Britney. She seems like a sweet kid. Definitely she’s made some unwise choices about men, but I won’t judge her for that. Her voice sounds nice. Her songs are trite but A) she didn’t write them and B) everyone has to make a living.
    Britney Spears has never harmed me or anyone I care about I can only wish good things for her and her son.

  • hk-reader

    Ah… so that’s what the woman is supposed to be doing in that sculpture…
    When I saw it, I assumed that it was a nice sculpture about making love late in pregnancy.
    I was trying to get a good look at the crotch, doesn’t seem like the baby is crowning.
    In some parts of labor, women do like to get on all fours and rock. It helps back labor. I did it myself, although I was leaning against some pillows, not a bear skin rug.
    Some women in some parts of labor do get blissed out (not me, but I swear I’ve met women who have.
    Some women like having unassisted childbirths and their photos (like here
    seem to show calm, happy, intent faces at stages where I was more obviously…working.
    So, while I don’t like the sculptor’s stated political agenda, and I am not a fan of Britney Spears (does the sculpture even look like her?…maybe the sculptor just said it to get publicity instead of calling it “anonymous woman in labor”.) I kind of like the sculpture itself, execpt the bear-skin rug.

  • ummabdulla

    Until I read the background information, it didn’t occur to me that this had anything to do with childbirth. It looked more like a woman trying to seduce a dog. I can’t imagine that the pro-life people would embrace it…
    I think he makes a little too much of Britney Spears “giving up her career” to have a family. She had a baby… OK, that’s wonderful, but she’s very young, and I doubt that she’s given up her career. She’s fortunate to be wealthy enough that “giving up her career” temporarily doesn’t mean struggling financially.

  • Sammy

    “did britless actually give birth in that position while on a rug she was fondling?”
    I’m usually not one to quibble about details like that, since this is a work of art and I’ll excuse a lot for artistic license. However, there’s too much irony in this one to pass up.
    So, to answer your question: no. She did not give birth in that position, on a bearskin rug or otherwise. She had a c-section.

  • M. D. Benoit

    Interestingly enough, I have a feeling that Britney is going to get more publicity out of this than the artist.
    This sculpture makes me think of those websites where they cut-and-paste the face of a female star onto the naked body of someone doing unspeakable things. It’s simply exploitative, regardless of the subject or the purpose.

  • mugatea

    Britney wishes she looked that good. That position can take a lot of presure off a woman’s back during birth.
    If this were a Rorschach test my first response would be “dog style.”

  • Pyrrho

    Ahh, “pro-life”, as long as you can prop yourself up on the dead flesh of others. Or seductively playing with the dead flesh of others.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Let me guess: The artist is a man.

  • bagreader

    if the matter of art is to stir debate, here’s a Spear that’s making a lot of ripples….I would have placed the piece in a church…The overall composition seems to reflect a kabbala.

  • tina

    this picture first appeared over at Digby/Hullabaloo and it is apparently a satire, and the New York gallery that is exhibiting it is known for its “practical joke” type projects.
    So no, its not actually a pro-life idol or anything. The comments over on Digby kind of explain this.
    If it really were what its going around the interet as, it would be freakin’ me out. TOO bizarre. But apparently its not.
    BTW Britteny had a C-section, apparently for the sole reason that she didn’t want to experience the pain of childbirth. So there ya go.

  • tps12

    Can anyone think of any interpretation of the bearskin rug that supports the pro-life reading rather than subverts it?
    My reading of that aspect of the piece is as a comment on the psychology behind the traditionalist lionization of Britney’s embracement of motherhood.
    As a young, lower-class, sexually aggressive female media figure, pre-pregnant Britney posed a symbolic threat to traditionalism and masculinity. Her perceived turn away from her media career in favor of traditional family values is a major coup, and fetishization of her new identity as baby factory, to the point of literally placing her pregnancy on a pedestal, is to be expected.
    In the same way, a bearskin rug is a statement of values. It is a public declaration of masculine triumph over nature: by reducing a threatening predator to something underfoot, the threat to masculinity is removed. Even in a society that preserves plenty of traditional and reactionary instincts, the bearskin rug’s symbolism is a little too blatant, so that where once it may have been associated with quiet strength and manly determination, people today are much more inclined to view it as tacky or campy, a piece of kitsch.
    The tension created by juxtaposing an objectified, dehumanized Britney Spears and the nullified threat of the defanged bear subverts any pro-life message and highlights the insecure masculinity behind the pro-life psychology.

  • acm

    I’m sorry, call it whatever you want, it’s pregnant women porn. whether or not the sculpture includes the baby’s head coming out (and I read somewhere that it does), the rest of the image and posture is clearly meant to clarify that even in the moment of motherhood, the woman is still primarily a sex object. unbelievable.
    love the fact that she had a C-section in real life — that gave me a giggle that the rest didn’t…

  • jt from BC

    Goofing off and blundering about.
    Goldilocks_ 1/down/ 1/up/ 1/? = 3 Osos más o menos.
    Cesarean__Section/a neighborhood in Rome.
    C_______ Section/Drs. everywhere get to T off on time.
    RTBAG___Déjeme conjeturar: El artista es un hombre_Si

  • John Gillnitz

    This remindes me of a joke:
    A new born baby looks up at the doctor that just delivored him and asks “Are you my father?”
    The doctor, surprised that a new born could talk, says “No. Your father is in the waiting room.”
    The baby crawls out the door and sees a man in the hallway. “Is this the waiting room? Are you my father?” asks the baby.
    “No.” Says the man. “I’m not your father and the waiting room is over there.”
    The baby crawls in the direction the man pointed and sees another man in the waiting room. “Are you my father?” he asks.
    The man becomes overjoyed and picked up the baby. “My son!” he says. “You can already talk!”
    “Yeah.” says the baby and starts punching his father in the head. “How does that feel motherfucker!”
    The End
    BTW looking at Britney Spears for hours on end is a job?

  • zatopa

    John Gillnitz, thank you for that joke, which made me laugh hard enough to hurt myself. It was a little more subtle than the sculpture, but apropos. Dudehisattva did some excellent visual humor on the sculpture, which I saw before I had heard any straight news coverage of the art object. The Dude’s headline photo shows Pat Robertson’s reaction to the sculpture; the reverend is standing on the sculpture’s, shall we say, business end, which, inexplicably, is not shown in the set of news photos floating around the internets.
    Seems that no matter how outrageous your parody, if it touches on an issue dear to the religiocoporate Right, you can absolutely guarantee that it will be taken straight.
    Daniel Edwards touched off a smaller firestorm with his sculpted likeness of the cryogenically frozen head of Ted Williams. Otherwise, he seeems to have had an admirable career doing more or less traditional sculptures for memorials, medals, commemorative statues, etc. We all have bills to pay.
    Also, apparently there’s a short documentary video on the artist called “The Several Severed Heads of Daniel Edwards,” but it hasn’t shown up on You Tube yet.

  • Rafael

    The message is clear, marriage and making babies is better than anything else. Never mind that your husband is trailer trash and you will be broke at the age of 40. It ok as long and your pushing babies. The art itself it ok, nothing wrong with celbrating childbirth, but why pick Spears, when they are millions of other women better qualified. Is it about birth or celebrity or at the extreme risk of sounding as eugenics number one fan, a reminder than some people should not reproduce. Think of the children for God’s sake!

  • itwasnt me

    Where, oh where is the shot from behind so we can all see the business end of this sculpture? I’ve been trying to find it, since that’s sort of the point. But leave it to the Puritan residue in this country to leave it out.
    As an artist myself, I love this example of goddess worship. Perfect 21st century ideological kitch.

  • Asta

    Just when I thought I’d seen it all… .
    First impression — sculpture of how Britney got knocked up in the first place. Quite a position.
    Second impression — bear rug, hmm, stock market mascot. Are we in a bear market right now? If we were in a bull market, would the sculptor had incorporated a bull’s head instead?
    Third impression — something about the whole image is Greek Mythology. Someone here must know their Bullfinch’s better than I. Mortal impregnated by bear, gives birth, Immortal angered by some trite sin, strikes Mortal with lightning bolt, Mortal becomes a rock. Or a star.
    Fourth impression — wow, what a waste of polymer resin.

  • putnam

    This is not a right-wing political statement – I think. This is art through kitsch, in the manner of say Jeff Koons’ sculpture of Michael Jackson with a chimpanzee. It also reminds me of British works in that Brooklyn Art Museum show that Giuliani attacked, some six years ago. There is more than a touch of satire. The extraordinary publicity attained already – a week before this one more work of sculpture is unveiled in another Billsburg gallery – attests to an effective performance art piece.
    Having previously attained publicity through a Ted Williams deathmask, the artist now attains greater publicity through a complementary sculpture of birth.
    And yes, as others noted, the work does allude to goddess sculptures and fertility figures.
    Why a bear’s head? The artist says it alludes to the traditional baby picture on a bearskin rug. It certainly adds that special kitsch touch, as does the autographed baseball under Ted Williams’ chin, in the deathmask named for Ben Affleck.
    Check out the gallery website and the website for The Art Newspaper, the donor of the Bartlesbooth Award previously won by the artist for the Ben Affleck/Ted Williams piece. There are some amusing descriptions of the works of other Bartlesbooth Award winners. There’s one in particular in which I’d like to perform with the artist.
    Good clean fun.

  • Cactus

    Back in the day, it was common for the new momma and poppa to have pictures of the baby on a bearskin rug. Apparently bearskin rugs were quite the rage in the ’30s; my grandmother had one. The purpose of these photos was to drag them out when said baby was dating and show to everyone to see how embarrassing they could be. Sometime in the ’50s or so, it became popular for semi-nude beauties to pose on bearskin rugs for calendars to be hung in garages all over the country. After that, they sort of faded out. Unless there is some sort of fetish connection going on that I’m unaware of.
    However, the connection between pro-fetus wingers, bear rugs, Britney Spears and the birth of her baby seems to be alone in the mind of the male artist.
    I like what tps12 said, particularly: “. . . and fetishization of her new identity as baby factory, to the point of literally placing her pregnancy on a pedestal. . .” Isn’t that exactly what they did to Terri Schiavo? The use, BY MEN, of a woman’s body for their own artistic/political reasons. I wouldn’t know Britney from Jessica, but the statue is very muscular. So then, do we have a (male) artist putting a strong woman about to create life in a submissive position on a pelt from a conquered animal to show the prowess of the (male) artist?
    This artist says he has three daughters. For a man to idolize his wife giving birth to their child is one thing. To pick a total stranger to make a political statement about how all women should behave, is quite another.
    But, OTOH, maybe he’s just greedy and wanted the publicity attaching to a famous person and he’s no better than any other paparazzi. It could also be a case of capable craftsman without any passionate imagination grabbing at cult icons to make trite statements better said in letters to the editors of local papers. He also did a headless Ted Williams. Or maybe it’s just a case of two people with small talents coming together to make some not quite scatological points and become famous and maybe rich.

  • readytoblowagasket

    This piece is so transparently insincere and cynical it’s not even clever. I wish it were a real pro-life piece. It reminds me of Jeff Koons’s “Made in Heaven” series — explicit paintings, photographs, and sculptures of Jeff having sex with his porn star wife. Similarly, this Britney sculpture says something about the artist that he doesn’t quite get about himself.
    I leave the Googling of “Made in Heaven” to you.

  • Rafael

    The artist daid something about it been “not pro-choice” as if choosing to be pregnant is not a choice. What, is it a burden? Or a scared duty? Where is that Handmaiden’s manual, I have it here, somewhere….

  • mr. memento

    My (graphical) response is here.
    Not work-safe, but it’s the weekend, so hey. :-)

  • robinhood


  • Rafael

    Good one! Yep, the internet is for porn!

  • David McCarthy

    Ah lads, do we really live in an age where taking time off work to have a baby is a ‘STATEMENT’?.
    poor ole Britney’s in a bit of a pickle over this one, according to the linked website she has had no input into the sculpture whatsoever “Britney Spears did not pose for the sculpture, and had no contact with artist Daniel Edwards. She as neither condoned or condemned the sculpture”. Damned if you do , damned if you dont.

  • Chiaroscuro

    The first thing to recognize is that the “artist’s” statements are pure marketing bullshit. This crappy piece of fetishist pornography has as much to do with art as a copy of Jugs magazine. I don’t think I can even credit it as satire. Edwards has tapped into the nexus of religion, politics, kinky sex and the cheap American celebrity subculture to produce a “shocking”, yet banal, object designed to do two things: Get him gobs of publicity and make money. It has as much “art” and intellect as Piss Christ. Liberals are supposed to rise in high dudgeon to defend the “artist’s” freedom of speech and expression. Well, I totally support free speech, including the obligation to say that just because someone calls himself an artist, and produces objects that he calls “art”, doesn’t mean the output isn’t dreck.
    As far as the actual photos are concerned–at least the ones I’ve seen online–it’s quite obvious that publishers are flinching when it comes to showing what the object purports to be all about: Britney giving birth. I suppose it’s too much to expect the actual twat shots in anything other than porn publications–or maybe OB/GYN Quarterly.

  • Jimbo3001

    Um…for all of you out there debating the artist’s intentions, let me just say, as a card-carrying New York Art Scene Observer: THIS SCULPTURE IS INTENDED TO BE SNIDELY IRONIC.
    Short Essay Explanation For Those Who Want To Read One: It’s a parody of neo-classical Victorian sculpture, which was much taken with depicting purity and motherhood, in a highly facile, idealized manner. “Purity” and “motherhood” are also buzzwords of the pro-life movement. We can also assume that pro-lifers (who are in the general perception stereotypically Babbit-ish) prefer realistic, non-ambiguous art.) However (and this is where the irony comes in), the subject of the sculpture is Britney Spears (who is well known to be far-from-pure, and in fact lied to the press about preserving her virginity) and the details of her motherhood are depicted with an explicitness that many real pro-lifers would doubtless find shocking and offensive. So the point here is to ironically contast the Victorian “moral values” of the pro-life movement with the gynecological and ethical realities of the positions they claim to be defending.
    Hope that helps.

  • Jo

    I frankly love the minds of artists. To dare to do just what you want and to say the hell with with you. Take a look at art through the ages and this is just another thought. Now back to the ‘Garden of Delight’.

  • Chiaroscuro

    Au contraire, Jimbo. It’s breezy discussions of ironical contrast between Victorian memes and modern reality–murmured in hushed tones at the gallery opening–that are the supreme irony. Oh, what a comment on the cultural emptiness of the lumpen prole knuckle-draggers and their down-market sensibilities! I’ve watched the New York art scene for 35 years and it always astounds me how many people can be conned (or intimidated) into believing dreck is art. And please don’t pin the Babbit label on me. My degree is in Art History and I’ve had my time in the studio as well.

  • LanceThruster

    I agree that there are many aspects of the sculpture that are sweet and innocent but to claim as the artist did that it is a pro-life piece merely because Britney had the baby is pretty transparent. Britney as a Gibson girl posed as seductively as Jenna Jameson (even a nod to the pregnancy fetish community) on a bearskin rug evoking a mixed message of infantilism(a nod that fetish community as well) and coy sexuality with dead animal flesh (the stroking the bear ears ref – another nod to the bestiality community?). As to my fetish interest, I like the bare feet in the air for balance. Though the artist is representing himself as one who mirrors the virtue of motherhood for the masses, I’m sure he could be commisioned to do the piece in fishnets and ball gag if the price was right.
    And the way the head and hips are somewhat aligned, it reminds me of the furniture I saw in a Penthouse(?) decades ago where mannequins were posed in a similar fashion to be the pedestal for a glass top coffee table. Now that would certainly get the neighborhood tongues wagging.

  • Nancy Irving

    What I’d like to see is a rear shot.

  • frank burns

    That is no bear.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes