(2018) INSTALLATION (PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEO, SCULPTURE, ARTIST BOOK)
Spinebone Soup and Stuffed Rabbits - multimedia project covering the biopolitical approach to an issue of food, especially on the specific sides as hunger and overconsumption, studied throughout conflict periods of history as well with a contemporary ideologic understanding of lifestyle, fashion, and well-being. It is implemented in mediums of post-doc and verbatim video, photography, installation, and a cookbook, deconstructing familiar advertising aesthetics and conventional ways of representations.
3-channel video installation Guerilla Gardening Video (13:30); 1-channel video installation Dumpster Diving Video (10:00); 1-channel video installation Vegetarians Interview Video (41:25); Installation (Photo and Video); Sculptures; Artist book
In 1998, the curator of the 24th Bienal de Sao Paulo, Paulo Herkenhoff, titled it Nucleo Historico (Historical Nucleus) and subtitled Anthropophagy and Histories of Cannibalism. It was not the topic itself that attracted my attention, but the perspective which the curator used to revisit and revise colonial processes of Brazilia and broadly Latin America, in other words, Anthropophagy as Cultural Strategy. The subtitle originates from the Manifesto Antropofago (1928) by the modernist poet Oswald de Andrade. Andrade made a specific distinction between anthropophagy and cannibalism, where the former refers to the ritualised translation of a worldview through the act of ingestion, whereas cannibalism opposes this spiritual understanding, describing instead the materialistic and disavowing interpretation of it by the Jesuits and colonisers. The topic of the Biennale obtained another dimension, referencing a work of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, a famous Brazilian anthropologist, for whom symbolic anthropophagy was a key to study together Amerindian perspectivism and a concept of multinaturalism embracing an idea of multiplicities of viewpoints as an inner quality of reality. De Castro redefines anthropology into an independent philosophical system shifting and inverting distinctions between nature and culture, animals and humans, family and social ties; where the problem of being – relevant for Western metaphysics – is replaced by the question of becoming (multiple others) to shuttle points of view; so closely echoing with Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts. Such an audacious and unexpected direction of the Biennale, according to Herkenhoff’s reflections ten years after, was not very well received critically and intellectually: “Paradoxically, at the Anthropophagy Biennal, an antithetical reaction was observed – an absolute refusal to discuss the art or show.
According to Claude Levi-Strauss, anthropoemic culture, unlike anthropophagy, is one that does not assimilate any exchange with the other, ultimately it involves to vomit”.
Some years ago, I began refusing to eat meat entirely. My objection, being based neither on ecological nor ethical grounds, I could only guess at what mechanism of a personal eschatology drove my alimentary choice. The nucleus of 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 dominant ideologies; and the role of trauma, memory, and speech in the shaping of consumer choice. The Siege of Leningrad served as a point of departure. For me, it is not some speculative episode out of an abstract past, but a humanitarian collapse which directly animated my anamnesis. It is a unique, timeless space behind the looking glass, ever-present, casting a shadow across generations. The Siege is an indelible genetic memory, a trauma, a corporeal imprint. It is revealed in sophisticated figures of omission, in the failure to utter, in postures of violence. The food trauma is not only the remembrance of hunger; it is the horror of extreme survival. Forced cannibalism drives destructive memory and legitimises dehumanisation by the power apparatus. Heroic status is bestowed upon those who, deprived of words, are thereafter eaten. The multiple languages of my work conflate different ideologies. References to the archival representation of plenitude neighbour the familiar tropes of consumerism. The nourishing component of this general approach is reduced to a representation of a shell, a symbol, a signified without a signifier: to a speculative cookbook of words.
Liminalities of incorporation, video-lecture (18:07) Chapters: - Fluid Identity of Memory - Ritual and Reenactment - Cookbook of Inedible
For TABOO - TRANSGRESSION - TRANSCENDENCE in Art & Science 26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online Monograph: https://www.blurb.com/b/8961423-food-as-structural-unit-of-politics-transmitter-of
"Spinebone Soup and Stuffed Rabbits" manifests itself as a speculative cookbook. Following the tradition of modernists' experiments with collages, it reads a concept of food as text, glues it together with the aspects of memory, conditions of ideology, and visual culture of the present. The shape of the book, which can be described as an inverse or wrongly assembled magazine,
enhances the ubiquitous message of the omnipresent ideology devouring any nutritional value. This cookbook is a collaboration with an artist and graphic designer Nick Teplov. The role of typography is equally important as the role of imagery and text. By its redundancy it emphasizes exacerbates the ideological aspects studied through my whole work.
Guerrilla Gardening Video (13:30) The Seige diaries, and the Seige history, chased and forbidden by the official fictional historiography of modern Russia – this is the cruellest accusatory document not only of the atrocities of "hunger politics" of Nazism but also of the thanatopolitics of the Soviet government, for which military machine thousands of dying mute dystrophics were forced to work for almost three years. Muteness is one of the symptoms of dystrophy, the dying person cannot talk about anything except food, and then becomes completely silent. The sound component of this work is a strict reduction of a language capable of repeating or rather devouring itself in lacking any other nutrition. The visuals are inspired by archival photography from besieged Leningrad taken by Boris Kudoyarov in 1942. In this staged shot, three people, a military man and two civilian women,
are picking cabbage from the lawn in front of St. Isaac's Cathedral – near the prominent landmark of the historical part of Leningrad. During the Siege, to survive a severe famine, people converted flower beds for vegetables. Since the filming of the dying city was allowed under the utmost severe censorship, in the photographs we see happy and pleased smiling faces – a symptomatic aesthetic choice of totalitarian language. My anonymized protagonist in a hazmat suit committed intervention in flower beds in various geographic spaces, interlinked by history and the common linguistic realm of violence, and performed a repetitive ritual of harvesting, mimicking the grotesque of the quasi-ethical neoliberal obsession of DIY agriculture. This intervention looks like a joke because it is impossible to imagine that people can again be under siege and use flower beds for planting vegetables to survive. Or still can?
Dumpster Diving Video (10:00) - is departing from an important example of political mythology connected with the history of the Leningrad Zoo, which claims that none of the animals was eaten during the severe times of hunger during the Leningrad Siege. To save the predators, the Zoo's director invented a method how to trick the animals refusing to consume substitutive forage: he would stuff the rabbit's skins with grass and sawdust adding a few drops of blood or bone stock. I was so astonished by the peremptoriness of the statement that the animals have been left intact in the city where people ate people, so I decided to interview the employees connected to the Leningrad Zoo at different times. Their answers, affirming the continuous strength of political mythology and mixed with some official information about the death statistics in the Zoo during the Siege, I am using as a sound work.
The conceptual figure of the animal became very important for my work. I see it not only as a metaphor for this Stuffed Rabbit mentioned above, but I also comprehend it as an uncanny figure of the other, which we are afraid to encounter in ourselves. The state of an animal was described by Giorgio Agamben in connection with the bare life state, in which displaced human loses its sovereignty. The place of displacement can become a dumpster, a transit zone between civilization and wilderness where still (not in the zoo) one can meet a real animal that came from the forest to nourish itself or a dumpster-diving homeless person suspended in this transitional state between animal and human, or freegans trying to reestablish their human sovereignty by marking their activity as a political act.
Vegetarians Interview Video (41:25) - was made in four countries using four different languages. Here I comprehend language as a "cultural" state whereas hands eating as a "natural" state (for a Westerner). The aim of the interview is to speculate about the freedom of decisions in general: the ground for the choice of not eating meat to the situations of survivalism.
What to define as a threshold between the natural and the cultural in the act of devouring and speaking? How does a 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.