Artist Dash Snow’s life was cut short at twenty-seven years when he overdosed last summer in his hometown of New York City in a destructive solo hotel stint.
Snow created art similarly to how he lived life; he did whatever the fuck he wanted. Priming his canvas surfaces with urine and ejaculating onto his own collages as a finishing touch was not uncommon. Neither was doing so on a review of his work that he disapproved of. Snow is famed for his “Hamster Nest” vandalisms, created with fellow talented downtown artist Dan Colen, where they would divulge in a cocktail of drugs including mushrooms, cocaine, and ecstasy while they destroyed swanky hotel rooms by shredding massive amounts of telephone books, tearing down drapes, turning on all the water faucets and taking off their clothes in an attempt to feel like caged hamsters. This popular habit lead to a SoHo installation, which they created in a three-day performance welcoming fellow friends to join in by contributing their own human waste and debaucherous ambitions. When Snow was satisfied by its completion, it was unveiled to the public at Deitch Gallery in an exhibit entitled “NEST.”
Dropping out of school in 9th grade, Snow began tagging his street name ‘Sace’ in graffiti art around the city and has seemingly been on the run from the law ever since. In using his radical vision and rebellious behaviors Snow began creating Super 8 films and collages that would most often depict his opinion on a social or political matter and, as stated earlier, these were frequently ejaculated upon–one example being the time he ejaculated on a cover of The New York Post that bore the face of Saddam Hussein.
Dash Snow’s work has been exhibited in the Whitney Biennial and collected by Charles Saatchi, one of the art world’s foremost opinion leaders, and whose support lends an almost unquestionable seal of approval to young artists, as it did to artists Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin in the 1990s. But Snow’s status in the art world is not yet settled. And there are many who think his work is nothing more than the result of a flurry of drug-induced adolescent pranks and not worthy of entry into the world of defined art, a world in which his forebears, world-class art collectors John and Dominique de Menil, and his grandmother Christophe de Menil, are akin to royalty. Fellow outlandish artist Ryan McGinley once stated “Dash is more about the fall of humanity” in regard to the meaning behind Dash’s Polaroids, photos that exude the sexuality, poverty and harshness of our world that some choose to ignore, a world that he preferred. In a piece he wrote for Paper magazine back in 2005, Dash stated his Polaroids were taken by “a camera that I made of wood, palm leaves and cocaine. It takes film, which I make myself as well, and it works wonders.” The confession and pictures to follow speak for themselves.
Among his last completed works, and my personal favorite, is Dash’s final Super 8 film, a tragically beautiful and intimate homage to his loving partner Jade Berreau and their daughter Secret Magic Nico entitled Sisyphus, Sissy Fuss, Silly Puss, 2009 (don’t worry I don’t get it either). There’s something simply honest and bone chilling about this short film. Even if you don’t appreciate his other mediums, I dare you to pass this one up.