Central Saint Martin Open studio
In this work, I lay points of a constellation that recreate a plate, or a gathering of plates, or a meal within the meal within a magic reconfigured domestic wanna-be circle! Layers of surrealist narratives spiral subliminally out of the plate into the spatial plate-circle: recreating the space for me to physically engage, perform, the violent search for ideal goodness, supposed healing.
Enforcing healing as if healing could be consumed, outlining the issues that build in and out of relationships to the body, food, and the trauma that is often cast between the two.
I hide the performance in plain sight just like all food disorders operate in the home and through affections, in the small liminal contradiction between the familiar gathering ritual and lonely habits, between conscious and unconscious, between the learned, the inherited and the secretive.
The audience only has access to the binge in the intimacy of a hypothetically soil-charged iPhone screen. The origin of the rosemary’s powerful healing properties, at the roots, is devoured in search of well-being and spit out in apparent reknown impossibility.
This work is a performative film I made with my mother in our ancestors’ land, Rovegliana.
Mother has had a layered and hunted experience with eating, just like I have. People, especially women, in our family have a particular relationship with food and, almost consequently, weight, body image, and identity.
I have always been fascinated with the intertwined links between food trauma, love, and the body. Many norms, taboos, and intimate narratives inhabit these crumbly trails from embodiment, nutrition, and health, to the body as a vessel in the social and private sphere.
I engage with the practice and theory of eating through a subversion of the canonic mother-daughter feeding mechanism, offering my mother her childhood recipe, which has also been passed down through generations.
I dig a wound-like hole in the snow and dress it up for ceremony, for elevated holistic un-doing. Using magical wooden spoons carved by a lineage of women in my family and a tea service found in the ruins of our ancestor’s home, I ask ‘them’ to join us as witnesses and honored guests, conducting energy through the healing ceremony.
A certain Magnetism builds up and is released in complete contradiction. The pomegranate, consumed for its utopic structure of multiples in one, bleeds out of our mouth, is eaten, spat out, and swallowed again. There is no linearity in healing, and the feeding cycle is again fragmented for puzzling. We feast. Through the painful, alive cold, we consume the milk risotto in what seems the most candid dimension. In the wound, we are timeless and opaque. There is no script other than one central desire: surrendering power over our bodies and roles, refusing control, and finally rejecting dominance on appearance and, most importatntly, commodified healing strategies. We at once embrace the unseen and make room for the unknown.
Documentation of performance
The incubator hosts a performer I had chosen specifically for this occasion: a friend with who I have collaborated in order to channel in the flesh my Fat Lady Goddess. The audience encounters them already sitting in the plate-tub; the performance then begins with the sound of a microwave opening, which gets set and then started. The sound piece, which I’ve collaged with bits of recordings I gleaned from slam poems, food documentaries and my own private writing, develops over a 20-minute span, in which a metaphoric equation “body: sculpture = food: matter “gets played and replayed at different paces and volumes throughout. Physically the fat lady is mixing water and flour, which is introduced into the plate by a second performer who embodies the anonymous factory worker.
These simple actions are repeated throughout, with a slight escalation in the mixing of the ingredients.
I realize this work can be perceived as problematic for adopting the body of another performer, given that my current body, when covered, appears as quite conforming to contemporary beauty standards. However, this piece was conceived through a former body of mine that is folded within me, and I would perform it myself if that part of me were tangible and visible today. I know some practitioners take advantage of orchestrating work that has never belonged to them; this piece instead is the fruit of a conversation between the needs of my past self and the current ones of Laura Funk, the performer. Part of the discomfort that comes from the performance is a reflection of everyday violence towards fat bodies.
I want to revisit this work because a couple of aspects weren’t anticipated in the pursuit of this dystopian fantasy, starting with the documentation of the happening itself. We cannot see the audience’s interaction with their meal. The take on the filming was too static, so going back to the project, I would also be more fluid in an assemblage of different perspectives rather than just one single static take.
This work is a performative video in which I place my body and the sofa in relation to one another. Stretching the physical boundaries between the two, I take my time as I pull layers apart.
I had saved the couch from a dumping ground, held on to it for years; there was some mystical relation to it I could not fully grasp. Finally, I thought: perhaps I am the sofa, I am the couch. This work is a study of the relationship between different physical bodies, between layers and skins, and tangible against possible. I give the couch surgery just like I gave myself surgery. Our missed placement is authentic, and I find myself in conversation with the object.
Wash me away
Documentation of performance
This work is the result of my curiosity towards Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)s; for those not familiar with this practice, it is a strategy used in psychotherapy for going deeper into the patients unconscious, allowing through left and right brain stimulations, which can be both visual or sonic, to research and reconfigure traumatic past events or memories.
This video is a heavily edited collection of performances in public spaces that I have had a traumatic relationship with and, at last an attempted healing encounter with.
The performative gesture stays the same throughout all of the sites: pouring water over my head from a large reflective bowl.
In this gesture, I both explore a healing tactic while translating into action what EMDR aims to do internally. Something about this act becomes both irritatingly simplistic as a parallel of EMDR but also empowering. Therefore in the editing of the documentation of these performances, I reverse the gesture itself, re-positioning ‘healing’, in this case, washing, In what is not a linear process, but more likely chaotic transience, as if we were going underwater and re-emerging all while in motion through life.
The final take of this short unfinished film then becomes that same gesture, without the EMDR strategy (visual or sonic), but with a full-screen take of a somewhat undressed self, in what I consider a profoundly empowering place to my spirit, Villa Adriana in Tivoli. I realize in reviewing the initial footage of this take that a bird flew over my head in the exact timing in which I had just poured the water over myself, encapsulating the transience that I had been trying to capture all along.
I believe this work needs further research and analysis, so it is as of now an ongoing work in progress.
My latest work, Magic Mele, is an assembled installation with painting, moving image, and sculpture. In the first diptych (following pages), I want to highlight how the initial single canvas, in which I find a dialogue with my Goddess-Fat Lady-Monstress, is later cut and used as conventional tissue topping for my homemade ‘magic jam.’ This resonates with the aspect of cutting in a generative sense, a theme that I research and invest in my practice.
A written side note invites the audience to take one jar for each household, which evolves into the painting being physically spread through space. For the Goddess to be whole again would imply for the people to come together, referencing other theologies.
The painting then sits on top of 300 jars of Magic Jam I’ve made in my home with the help of loved ones.
I have recorded myself in a ritual in which I evoke the Goddess within my primary ingredients for the jam-making: apples, beetroot powder, sugar and lavender. I draw a circle of apples and candles around me at sunset and chant and walk in circles, putting the intention of healing and gathering into the organic spread. The jam becomes the ultimate viscera of the Goddess, for people to take home and feed on.