8 Cases of Art Taken to the Shocking Extreme

Art may be subjective, but just about anyone would find these protest works shocking.

Art is subjective. What one person calls a masterpiece another might call nonsense. Where one person sees genius, another sees only madness.

Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky took a swing at making an artistic/political statement when he nailed his scrotum to the cobblestone roads of Red Square. Police eventually detained Pavlensky, and covered him with a blanket.

Pavelensky's stunt was intended to protest the Russian police state, due to its concurrence with Russia's national Police Day. Though Pavelensky was detained, he was given medical attention and later released.

Given how the whole episode played out, Pavelensky's political statement was at best a mixed message. As an artistic statement, however, his actions were undoubtedly shocking and extreme. This isn't the first time Pavelensky has stretched the definition of what could be considered art -- and he is by no means the only one to do it.

Pavelensky's latest stunt may be only the second part of a naked street art performance series. In May, Pavlensky wrapped himself in a cocoon of barbed wire outside a government building in Saint Petersburg. He only moved after police freed him with wire cutters.

Last year, in protest of the detention of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk band that saw three of its members sent to prison on charges of hooliganism, Pavlensky sewed his lips shut.

Lush Cosmetics doesn't like animal testing. In a stunt featuring performance artist Jacqueline Traide, the company attempted to show why.

For 10 hours, Traide was subjected to force feeding, received various injection, had part of her head shaved and more as part of a brutal performance intended to demonstrate the horrors of animal cosmetic testing. The whole scene played out in front of the Lush store window in London's Regent Street.

Even the culinary arts have creators that push their craft too far. Japanese chef Mao Sugiyama did just that when he underwent voluntary castration surgery and charged five patrons $250 each to consume his severed penis, testicles and skin.

Unable to charge Sugiyama for over the bizarre meal, as there is no law against cannibalism, Tokyo police instead charge Sugiyama with indecent exposure.

Israeli performance artist Asher Lev wanted to turn his disgust with a racist statement made by Nazareth Illit Shimon Gafso mayor into a form of protest.

To express his distaste with Gafso, Lev ate part of the statement written on a piece of paper, drank blue-colored milk, and then proceeded to vomit into a bowl. He concluded his one-man demonstration by doing a handstand above the bowl.

Antonio Manfredi, director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), was incensed last year with cuts to Italy's arts budget following austerity measures to rein in the country's debt load.

In a fittingly ironic protest, Manfredi burned several works of art from his collection and pledged to burn two to three a week. As Manfredi told NPR, by destroying artwork in his collection, he intended to save all art.

Manfredi first burned his own works, and received permission from the artists to burn others.

Controversial conceptual artist Zhu Yu artist sparked international outrage in 2000 for a series of photographs that showed him eating what was alleged to be body of a stillborn baby. Yu claimed that his work was a protest against the idea that cannibalism is immoral.

"Piss Christ" is a work that delivers exactly what artist Andres Serrano promises in the title: a crucifix submerged in the artist's urine. Given the subject matter, Serrano's work has, perhaps understandably, enraged religious groups.

Part of a series by Serrano of religious objects submerged in various liquids, photos of this exhibition have repeatedly been vandalized when put on public display, with one incident occurring in 2011 when French Catholic fundamentalists in the city of Avignon attacked a photo reproduction.