You know, most people who see the video below or even participate in maggot painting events have pretty much the same reactions: “Wow, cool!” or “Amazing!” or “That’s fucking disgusting!” or all of the above. No one seems to want to talk about the artistic merit of these works or how the differences in technique bring out (or suppress) the emotional range and complex voices of the maggot artists themselves.
I think, as skeptics, it’s high time we turned a critical eye to these important works. And as scientists and science enthusiasts, it behooves us to present the findings in chart form.
First, take a moment to witness the artistic process in this provocative film by entomology PhD student and maggot painter Alison Bockoven:
Note that in the first painting, the blobs of paint are added to the page first, with the maggots then placed on the paint. The result is clearly abstract expressionist, reminiscent of action paintings, yet you see the artist trapped in the overwhelming color, much as the fly-to-be is trapped in the maggot itself. There is an artistic irony in this freeform expression being used to clearly convey that the artist is not free but constrained by where it happens to be placed on the page. In fact, when we see the process, we can tell that the maggots were lifted, no doubt against their will, and placed on a different color. The commentary on how we are all trapped in the Military-Industrial Complex is stark, yet somehow the message is that even here, we can find, nay, we can create beauty.
Here, in this close-up at right, we see the maggot moving stridently away from the color on which it was placed while illustrating, with its trail of “blood,” that this process of asserting independence has its price.
Contrast this with the technique of dipping the maggots first, then placing them on the page, shown at left. Here we see agency, vibrancy. We see that the artist doesn’t succumb to a false dichotomy. It says, I don’t have to choose. I can be both orange and yellow. I can keep them separate and combine them. I am fucking free. Yet somehow, in this very freedom, there’s less boldness, less passion. It’s almost like the maggots are making a statement about the artistic inferiority and aimlessness that freedom produces.
It’s almost like the maggots hate America.
In fact, as you can see from the chart below, these seemingly innocent maggot paintings, often billed as a good science and art activity for children, are actually part of a larger maggot conspiracy to indoctrinate our children with socialist ideas about the robustness of cooperative work and the evils of independent thought and individualism.
I think it’s time we made the world aware of exactly what these fucking maggots are plotting. Think of the children.