October 31, 2018

The idea and the visual images of making soap from liposuctioned human fat is already there in the book and movie "Fight Club," so...

... is it anything at all for an artist to actually do it — make the soap and even sell what is actually usable soap?

Vice tells us that the artist, Julian Hetzel, is Dutch and got his human fat from plastic surgeons in the Netherlands and that the final soap product only has 10% human fat. The artist clumsily instructs us about the intended meaning of his product (which is called Schuldfabrik):
"We decided to work with fat as a material that represents guilt or that contains guilt and to understand, can this be used as a resource?... Can we use guilt as something productive? Can we profit from our own guilt? How to make money with guilt."
Is it guilt or shame that drives people to liposuction? I would have said shame. Maybe it's a bad translation from the Dutch. According to Wikipedia:
Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated a universal moral standard and bear significant responsibility for that violation.
Wikipedia illustrates the concept with this image:



That's "Soul in Bondage" by Elihu Vedder, a painting from the 1890s. Is that more helpful in understanding guilt than Hetzel's soap made from liposuctioned fat? Vedder's soul doesn't seem to have any ideas about how to use guilt as something productive or how to make money at all.

If you choose to respond to the artist's prompt and analyze the meaning of his making soap from human fat, please take into account the historical antecedents. Here's the Wikipedia article, "Soap made from human corpses." Excerpts:
In 1780, the former Holy Innocents' Cemetery in Paris was closed because of overuse. In 1786, the bodies were exhumed and the bones were moved to the Catacombs. Many bodies had incompletely decomposed and had reduced into deposits of fat. During the exhumation, this fat was collected and subsequently turned into candles and soap.

The claim that Germans used the fat from human corpses to make products, including soap, was made during World War I. This appears to have originated as rumor among British soldiers and Belgians.... The belief that the British had deliberately invented the story was later used by the Nazis.

Rumours that the Nazis produced soap from the bodies of concentration camp inmates circulated widely during the war. Germany suffered a shortage of fats during World War II, and the production of soap was put under government control....

Though evidence does exist of small-scale soap production, possibly experimental, in the camp at Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig/Gdansk, mainstream scholars of the Holocaust consider the idea that the Nazis manufactured soap on an industrial scale to be part of World War II folklore.... In Hitler's Death Camps: The Sanity of Madness Konnilyn Feig concludes that the Nazis "did indeed use human fat for the making of soap at Stutthof", albeit in limited quantity....

31 comments:

Michael K said...

Maybe this topic should be in the serial killer art thread.

gilbar said...

what's next? Lampshades?

sykes.1 said...

I agree. How does this differ from Auschwitz or the Pittsburg killings?

Is all of modern art and all of modern artists morally depraved? Should they all be hanged?

rhhardin said...

Soap is cleansing. The guilt of one wipes away the sins of another.

rhhardin said...

The best use is soaping parked cars on Halloween.

Bad Lieutenant said...

"Industrial scale" is moving the goalposts a trifle, no? How many lampshades need to be made of human skin before the event may be noted? The use of human hair was also known to be attempted in the Nazis' industrial processes. If many such ideas were tried and proved wanting, it does not exonerate them.

rhhardin said...

It represents the annual automobile death toll.

Bad Lieutenant said...

rhhardin, when you die, alone, are you planning on your dog eating you, to reduce your funeral costs?

Dave Begley said...

Yeah, the first thing I thought of was the Nazis making soap from corpses.

That "artist" is sick. Also not talented. He can't draw, paint or sculpt so he makes up stuff like this to attract attention and revenue.

Now Ann Althouse is a different story. A talented artist. Still waiting for that line of Althouse Aprons with various paintings and drawings of Ann's on them.

Shouting Thomas said...

The difference between people who like their sex clean and those who like it dirty is kinda fascinating.

Some people like a lot of soap. Some people like to grovel in the dirt. All shades in between, too.

Dave Begley said...

Did the patients of the plastic surgeons consent to their fat being turned into soap? Lawsuit!

Fernandinande said...

I'd rather roll around on a fat girl. But not too fat.

Jess said...

With enough additives, clever merchandising, and some celebrity endorsements, the soap will become a rage for trend setters. With even more clever merchandising, an enterprising plastic surgeon could offer a person's own fat for processing into soap. An appealing name would be needed, none comes to mind, but I'm sure someone could come up with something.

tcrosse said...

Fat embodies guilt? Is this the basis for fat-shaming?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

They idea?

ALP said...

Soapmaker here (although amatuer). My current recipe is heavy on lard - aka pig fat. Seems like I could make a simple switch and substitute human fat, but I am too lazy to render my own fat so there is that hurdle...

The rendering process seem creepier than the final soap product.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Here's an idea: How about doing the hard work of learning to draw, paint, sculpt, write poetry, compose music, etc., and then make some, you know, actual ART, instead of making soap and trying to convince us that it's actually art?

Twit.

pdug said...

Wow, wikipedia is trafficking in the idea that some tales we tell about the holocaust were perhaps exaggerated?

Amazing.

(when you hear someone say "the nazis even turned the jews into soap and lampshades, you get the impression there was therefore a factory where thousands of bars of soap and lampshades were being made)

virgil xenophon said...

Ilsa Koch is unavailable for comment..

tcrosse said...

An appealing name would be needed, none comes to mind, but I'm sure someone could come up with something.

Grandma's Lye Soap, made with real grandmas. (It's in the book).

Darrell said...

I prefer the ice cream made from Supermodel breast milk.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Looks like Vedder's soul could use a bit of liposuction...

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rehajm said...

First rule of adipose tissue crafts class: Don't talk about adipose tissue crafts class.

Jupiter said...

Angels don't have tits. And Santa Claus is white.

FIDO said...

The picture is better than the idea of human guilt soap. The Dutch will believe and do anything because their nation is so boring.

And the best angels have tits.

FIDO said...

It seems that art has devolved from something that is pretty, is noble, or can pass a message without explanation to post modernist masturbation which needs a cue card so no one misses the point...and it tends to be ugly and useless as well.

I am not their target demographic. Most people aren't.

Lyle Smith said...

I’ve heard Trump is building industrial sized facilities for this in the woods of Mississippi. Hehehe...

Bob said...

Is it guilt or shame that drives people to liposuction?

How about neither? Some people want to lose weight for their health and just can't do it. Liposuction is the alternative when other means have failed.

TheOne Who Is Not Obeyed said...

"Can we use guilt as something productive? .... How to make money with guilt."

How appropriate this is on Reformation Day. Our current world was created in large part by the unexpected consequences of the monetization of guilt.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Bob said...
Is it guilt or shame that drives people to liposuction?

How about neither? Some people want to lose weight for their health and just can't do it. Liposuction is the alternative when other means have failed.

10/31/18, 12:15 PM


While I don't "judge" or object to liposuction on moral or ethical grounds, apparently it is not the medical gold standard for weight loss, that would be bariatric surgery a la stomach stapling, lap band, etc.

Liposuction will among other things destroy a remarkable lot of vascular tissue, it seems. There is blood loss. People die from botched lipo. It's fundamentally cosmetic surgery, that's why it's not covered by the same insurance that covers bariatric for the morbidly obese.

It's a great pity that medical treatment, i.e. medicine, drugs, has not been more successful. Leptin and brown fat were the last great hopes on research that I'm aware of. Apparently nothing on the order of fen-phen or good old amphetamines is viable anymore.