• Spinebone Soup and Stuffed Rabbits 2018

    Several years ago I refused eating meat entirely. Insisting neither on ecological nor ethical aspects, I could only guess which machinery of a personal eschatology affected my alimentary choice. 

    The nucleus of my work “Spinebone Soup and Stuffed Rabbits” is a reflection on the nature of food politics; the transition of biopolitics into necropolitics; the establishment of ethics as a product of a dominant ideology; the role of trauma, memory and speech in the shaping of consumer’s choice.

    The Siege of Leningrad appeared as a point of departure. For me, it is not some speculative episode of an abstract past, but the humanitarian collapse which directly modelled my anamnesis. I understand it as a unique, timeless space behind the looking-glass; a place of death politics’ effectuation, unthinkable ethical perversions and trauma’s emergence casting a shadow on generations upwards and revealing hitherto. The phenomenon of the Siege is different compared to a camp, a place of displacement and alienation of political and human rights. In case of the Siege, the camp conditions were imposed directly on the habitation, home, which afterwards didn’t have a chance to become the same again. The Siege in my family, as in many similar families, is an undoubted genetic memory, a trauma, imprinted on the bodily level.  Revealed in sophisticated figures of omission, in failure to recite, in postures of violence. Exposed by behavioural patterns of the actors of the family hierarchy, who, for instance, are resorting to food violence or controlling the bodies of subalterns in aspects of food consumption. The food trauma is not only the bitter remembrance of hunger; it is the horror of association with the means of extreme survival. Forced cannibalism becomes a conductor for destructive memory and a reason for dehumanization by the members of the power apparatus. A rhetorical trap: an enemy and a survivor are equally dehumanised. The status of a hero is awarded to the one eaten.

    Food and words are inseparable. The totalitarian cookbook moulds a thesaurus of abundance; hunger dissolves the ability to speak. The extremes of anthropophagy are the voluntary self-absorption as an act of provoking a society of virtuous consumption or the forced autophagy as a realisation of death politics. The survivors rhetoric circuits around the body of the other, the notion of taboo, the trauma caused by the memory of an animal.

    The study of human/ nonhuman animal boundaries is the domain of an anthropologist, documenting rituals before his lens. What to define as a threshold between the natural and the cultural in the act of devouring and speaking? How does language as a carrier of common historical past affect this? How flexible are cultural and ethical boundaries when talking about an animal? I want to string these questions one after another embedding myself into a flow of speakers united by a common dietary present.

    Talking around a menu of totalitarian hunger, where the words fall apart into inedible particles, I commit acts of ritual gardening: producing food, worshipping ethics of herbivore, staging a curing reenactment of a historical trauma. This psychodrama is performed by several protagonists symbolising human and non-human animals.  A dump, too, is a space of displacement: a playground for political expression of the freegan, a place of survival for the homeless, a border between human and animal worlds, apparently the last place where one can witness the wildlife apart from the zoo.  The figure of an animal is mythological; here I’m actualising the myth of the Siege’s zoo, where, at times when humans ate humans, none of the animals was eaten. I use the manifests of emasculated history together with the direct speech of zookeepers I interviewed, who worked there at different times, as a soundscape for the ritual of the search for food. The multiple language of photography conflates different ideologies: here a reference to the archival representation of plenitude is neighbouring the familiar tropes of a consumerism, counteracting with slogans of political counterpropaganda. The nourishing component of this general promise is reduced to a representation of a shell, symbol, signified without a signifier, to a cookbook of words.