Late in 2007, one of the most absurd trades ever executed went down between a Dutch lawyer and an American, Ryan Dunn. The Dutch lawyer, Aernoud Bourdrez, wanted an x-ray that Dunn had received after stuffing a toy car up his ass for a now-infamous scene in Jackass: The Movie. Bourdrez in return would send Dunn a 1989 Mercedes 420 SEC. Unfortunately the car didn’t pass U.S. Customs, so Dunn agreed to take Bourdrez’s DAF 46, which runs as fast in reverse as it does in drive. Bourdrez, a lawyer in the art world, as well as a gallerist and collector, began exhibiting the x-ray as art. Nine years later, he's selling it.
You see, Bourdrez has an interest in little oddities such as Dunn’s anus x-ray. He is particularly interested in things that are not (yet) considered “art” by the establishment, art critics, and the like.
“I like the discussions people tend to start, which is easy to lose, since the statement that something isn’t art is difficult to defend,” Bourdrez tells The Creators Project. “In my view, the only criteria for whether something is art is whether there has been an intervention by someone (who does not necessarily have to consider himself an artist)”.
“I like Jackass’ intervention (and they do not consider themselves artists), which has resulted in a piece of art,” he adds. “Whether something is good or bad art or tasteful or not is a different and, in my view, more interesting discussion. It’s not about the definition whether something is art, the formal part, but on the merits: whether you like it or not, are touched by it, whether you find it intriguing, inspiring, gives you reason to reflect on matters, and so on.”
And, oh, did Bourdrez find Dunn’s x-ray intriguing. After hearing about the x-ray back in 2007, he found himself unable to stop thinking about it. He calls Butt X-ray “ridiculous, authentic and brilliant at the same time”.
“Any other X-ray is not copyright protected, since it lacks—according to the Dutch criteria for protection—authenticity (it is not new) and it lacks the (literally translated) personal stamp of the maker—in other words, it is not the result of creative decisions),” Bourdrez explains. “However, the Butt X-ray is very original and the result of hilarious and creative decisions, thus copyright protected.”
Appreciating the Butt X-ray as an extreme fan is one thing. But how to take it off Dunn’s hands? Like any good lawyer, Bourdrez had his angle.
“As a lawyer, I negotiate on a daily basis,” Bourdrez says. “Selling a story tends to work better than offering money. So I came with this story.”
After Dunn agreed to to the deal for the car (appropriate given the toy car at the heart of this story), and Bourdrez had the x-ray in his hands, the logical next step was to exhibit it. It was obvious to Bourdrez that the people should see that toy car in Dunn’s rectum for all of posterity—no pun intended.
“That’s what a gallery is for, isn’t it?” says Bourdrez. “Besides, now it is for sale. The price: the purchase price of the Mercedes back in 1989, or a fancy car or another nice offer, with which the story continues.”
Bourdrez never spoke directly to Dunn, so he has no idea what the stuntman, who died in 2011, thought of his efforts to exhibit Butt X-ray as art. What do people think of the Dunn x-ray when they see it in a gallery setting? Bourdrez says a lot of different things depending on age, background, aims in life, and so on.
“However, everyone loves the story,” he says. “Some find it gross in some sense I can imagine.”
Bourdrez has no idea if other gallerists or collectors share his enthusiasm for the piece, but they are welcome to see it as long it is there. And whether its sale means it eventually falls into the hands of a collector of memorabilia is irrelevant to Bourdrez.
“I wouldn’t mind so much, as long the new owner keeps it with respect for Ryan Dunn and the piece itself.”
Written and Directed by Mr. Boonstra, Butt X-ray is a documentary short that goes, well, deep into the story:
Click here to learn more about Butt X-ray.