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John Waters Venice Biennale
Courtesy of the Venice Biennale

John Waters is going to be at the Venice Biennale

He’s encouraging the masses to study art with parody signs at the biennial art event

The high priest of perversion will be ferrying his signature camp to this year’s Venice Biennale. John Waters was selected to participate in 2017’s “Viva Arte Viva”, the international show curated by Christine Macel that acts as the Biennale’s centrepiece. His sculptures – painted plywood – are a dictum to viewers to “study art” by any means possible, which includes “for fun or fame”, “for profit or hobby”, “for breeding or bounty”, “for pride or power”, and “for prestige or spite.”

The signs, he tells the Baltimore Sun, were a riff on real signs he saw in Baltimore. “Many years ago, there was a real sign for a real art school in Baltimore on St. Paul Street below 25th Street. It said, ‘Study Art for profit or hobby,’ which is about the most politically incorrect thing you can say if you're an artist. I loved the sign and was astounded by it. It was completely unironic, and I decided to parody it.”

Over coffee with the curator in Paris, Waters was bestowed the honour to participate as a birthday gift to him from Christine Macel. The Pink Flamingos (1972) director is bowled over at the idea his art will be on display next to some of the most reputable artists from over 80 countries around the world. “I think the signs will be even ruder and more incorrect at the most prestigious art show in the world.”

An ideal trip for any John Waters aficionado might include a pit stop at the Biennale in late August, just before his adult summer camp starts in September in Kent, Connecticut.

The Venice Biennale starts May 9 and runs until November