The Dance of a Cheerful Destruction


Joan Miro, “Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement”, 1936

Why for Joan Miro, a famous artist with a solid reputation, a genius according to many, to paint a work of art about “man and woman in front of a pile of excrement”? What is it – caprice of an eccentric talent, the tickling desire to shock the public or megalomaniacal assertion on part of an exceptional person of his right to do whatever he wants? The answer is – neither of this. It is the desire to say the truth. – The desire to tell truth? Is truth between a naked man, a naked woman and a pile of excrement? – Not always, but sometimes, for example, in certain historical moments, it’s certainly is. – What does this picture have to do with historical periods? – Look at the date of this painting. It’s 1936. What was happening in 1936 that could be of importance for the Spanish painter with a European fame and worldly range of concerns?

First, the outbreak of Spanish Civil war which in several years later ended with a victory of Spanish fascists led by general Franco. Secondly, Nazi Germany breaks the treaty of Versailles and joined Italy and Japan in forming an alliance. May be these and related events gave for Miro, well-known for his anti-fascist position, reason to associate the European/Spanish man and woman with a pile of excrement? When in the beginning of the April 2012 we learned from the polls that among American men, president Obama (limping but still a democrat) is behind Romney (polished by coins money-athlete), you can also start to think in terms of excrement as a metaphor of psychological condition of the American males. Poor worship money and admire the rich whose interests are directly opposite to that of the poor. Similar situation was in Spain, Germany and Italy in 1936. Poor pay not only with money (through taxes) which governments siphon to the one percent of the population to provide it with more profits/power, but with their lives on the battlefields of the fraudulent wars. Miro understood back then, what majority of males cannot grasp today. That’s why we are especially privileged in the spring of 2012 to see a pile of waste matter in his painting.

According to Miro, Europe produced fascism with the same spontaneity and innocence as a couple of Spanish peasants produced a pile of fecal mass. In the world Miro represents in this painting, the sun belongs to matter, to earth – the sky is black. The sun is of gold and fascist ambition, of the shining glory of power. Soil and sand are transformed by human greed and corrupted dreams into sunny earthliness that doesn’t exist without the spots of redness of human blood. Between the black heaven and the sunny land lies the darkly orange colored area of human flesh that became soil.

The couple is dancing after having fertilized the field! Look at the painting – the fecal product is dancing too! Life is wonderful, as it is for the one percent of American money-bellies today. May be, some of them will join in the dance depicted by Miro? For some dancing not only continues after fascism has triumphed but it became even more fun. The blood is spilled but it is still enough alive blood in the veins (look at the rooster-male’s feet, legs or head) – for drinking, dancing and excreting! Man’s sex is like a barracuda or a parasitic worm, while the female’s – like a predatory plant. Their fertility is anal, like fertility of gold and war, profit and power, luxury and lechery, and Stock Market. The arms of the woman-chicken are… much longer than the man-rooster’s (perhaps, because chicken-woman’s greed grows out of her adhesive need to embrace/appropriate/consume the man-rooster) – possession of land and property is the chicken-feminine aspect of physical expansion into the world, while greed of the rooster-man is connected with his need to possess weapon or power of gold-money.

The fascist world in Miro’s painting is hell – real hell is not how our ancestors, yearning for psychological consolation, imagined it trying to persuade themselves that they live in the better place than hell. But Hell is always engraved in the present tense and tends to be close to our neighborhood. Hell is the very dance of the fascist times. Miro refers here not only to the actions of fascists in a narrow – political and military, directly repressive sense, but to the fact that people tend to continue to enjoy life even under fascism, that after murdering and torturing fascists continue to enjoy themselves (some of them even write lyrics, some cheer themselves by posing with corpses of their enemies). According to the painting, this continuation of ordinary human life of petty satisfactions (symbolized by the dancing of the rooster- and chicken-like monsters) during predatory times – is the very substratum of fascism. It is the eternal philistine inside fascist (eternal philistinism inside fascism) makes fascism happen again and again. But what about just philistines who just want to survive fascist times without losing taste for life? – These not fascist philistines are still fascists but they are smart: they outsource fascism to enjoy their everyday pleasures without blots of bad taste. The Miro painting is exactly about this type of people more than other types – they make money, eat, drink, copulate, excrete, dance, grow money and express gratitude to the creator for being so generous to them.

Like gold in soil banishes verdure (destroys nature) – in Miro’s painting green is only present in the echo of the golden ambition, alive blood transforms the spilled blood into an excrement. Miro’s painting is very close in inspiration with Max Ernst’s “Barbarians”-series. It is the verdict of human culture against tireless attempts of the internal fascism to destroy humanistic sensibility of the human race and dismantle its democratic potentials.