Fat Pig is no
understatement, it is the appropriation of the energy of its opponents. Fat Pig
is an expression of anger and the search for truth in the opinion jungle of nutrition fundamentalists,
self-proclaimed health experts, and know-it-alls.
Fat Pig is indeed also the question, “What do we actually eat and how do we eat it. Why do we eat it? How is it grown and produced? And why have people stopped cooking?” I approach these questions with the principle of “treating the similar with the similar" - namely with food.
The exhibition consisted of a 4 1/2-hour opening performance in a kitchen-like environment. During the one-week exhibition the kitchen installation was continuously used, and in particular for a brunch concurrent to the one-hour artist lecture “I want to live forever.”* Another important part of the week was a video screening about body diversity of work by six different artists.
*The lecture will be online soon.
At 7:00 pm four performers and I enter the space and put on green and gold aprons. While Sharon Hoyer, Chris Puente, Angela Trakas and I move into the kitchen installation and start cooking, Emer Kinsella stands on a pedestal and begins to play her violin. A subdued and sacred atmosphere fills the room.
Soon the first course, the aperitif, is ready, I put the cups on a tray and adjourn directly to two empty pedestals. I turn one pedestal upside down and one after the other I throw the cups into the container before I return to the kitchen space. Over the next 4 1/2 hours, this dumping scenario is repeated for all other courses with different protagonists.
Hours later, the Defibrillator Gallery is a condensed, heated atmosphere, and the crowd rushes eagerly to the outgoing trays: chicken, carrot soup, a vibrant spaetzle with lentils, fried vegetable chips. Fat is in the air. Also we sweat. At one point, Chris Puente runs to the pedestals with chocolate desserts. The people loudly. The violin only whispers at this point.
After the last course, the filled-up pedestals are turned back over, the aprons are hung back on the wall and all the performers leave the room. The audience applauds.
1) Tangy Campari-Aperitif with Freshly Squeezed Blood Oranges
2) Apricots in a Sage-Bacon Coating
3) Carrot Soup with Homemade Vegetable Stock
4) Fresh Lettuce with Farro and Shaved Carrots in an Olive Oil-Lemon Vinaigrette
5) Swabian Sour Lentils with Spaetzle
6) Whole Chicken with Vegetable Chips
Fat Pig is a continuation of my work cycle “Redefining Fat Identity” which is divided into the following sections:
1. Psychological precariousness caused by nonconformity to beauty standards
2. Health fallacies and debatable uses of health-related terms (in general and in particular with regard to obesity)
3. Industrialized or capitalist food production in relation to current arbitrary dietary criteria
Perceiving yourself in your body and in pictures is often an ambivalent exercise. In a powerful journey the performer Eileen Rosensteel talks about studying hundreds of photographs of her fat naked self. In Herrick’s work we will be introduced to a whole new species “THE OBEAST” – in an anthropological and hilarious manner the artist turns the whole topic of obesity upside down. Julischka Stengele, a performance artist, faces the audience with a simple experiment: Fitting into “normal”-sized clothes. What does it mean to be skinny, asks the slam poet Aisha Oxley, as she opens the topic of bodies from the other side of the size divide. The video artist Frederic Moffet shows us the perspective of a body fetish, especially big male bellies, while the artist Maria Raquel Cochez, who underwent weight-loss surgery, shares a vulnerable view on her own belly in connection with the unjudging playfulness of her child. - Text: Veronika Merklein
Videos of the participated artists
(with statements related to body-diversity)
"The fat acceptance movement has taught me that I don’t have to wait until I’m skinny to live my life. My art is a way to express my joy in my body. I create art that works to remove the shame we have around our bodies. (...)"
Obeast tagging, 8:26
" (...) The Museum for Obeast Conservation Studies (MOCS) project is part catharsis, part confession, part accusation, and part shaggy dog joke. I have been asked repeatedly who I am satirizing
with this work, and the answer is all of us. I am taking the mickey out of those who treat obesity as a source of fear and anxiety, those who tap into fear and anxiety in order to sell ads and
fads, those who don’t think critically about what the media tells them, those who diet obsessively but long for dessert, those who fail to recognize fat people as a stigmatized group, those who
do not understand the complexity of weight gain and fatness, (...) those who buy into unrealistic standards of beauty, and those who are too ashamed and self-critical to demand to be treated as
fully human. (...).
" I have inhabited a fat body, ever since. In performance, one of the main materials used is the performer‘s body. Sometimes I did a piece that specifically dealt with fatness and body norms and
sometimes I didn‘t. If I did, people (let‘s be specific: people with non-fat bodies) would sometimes criticise me for it being self-referential, ‚not enough‘ or not of relevance (for others than
me). But even if I didn‘t do a piece about it, people read anything immediately and exclusively in relation to my fatness. (...)"
"Growing up, I was always the skinniest kid. Even now, I don‘t usually find people smaller than me. My size has always been a mark - usually not a flattering one. In a way, I felt I owed it to
myself to reclaim my size and find beauty in what had been a source of trauma for me. And what I‘ve found from the popularity of „Skinny“ is that what I thought would simply be an act of
catharsis for myself, has the power to recognize a community of people suffering from the same trauma - a community that is often overlooked in discussions of body image.
Hard Fat, 21:14
" (...) I have always been very preoccupied with (read: disliked) my body. Since being a kid I always thought I was awkward, that I move strangely and most of all, I was way too thin, weak and
not masculine enough. I guess opposites attract, I have always been into strong, solid and somewhat chubby guys. So when I discovered this online community, I became totally obsessed with them.
First of all I thought it was amazing to have men talking (writing) about their bodies, which is pretty rare compared to women. I also thought that it was electrifying to see people completely go
against the system. (...) - Aus: Trans-Fat: Gainer culture and performing queer becomings in „Hard Fat“. Erste Frage aus einem Interview mit Liz Rosenfeld
"Beauty is a lot more encompassing than we are raised to believe. We can spend a life time struggling with the belief that beauty is a very exclusive characteristic of an elite few based solely
on a short list of physical attributes. I arrived at body acceptance through a set of questions posed to my audience through a public processing of the issues inevitably projected in
autobiographical and self referential art pieces. (...)"
Concept: Veronika Merklein, Curator: Joseph Ravens, Model: Veronika Merklein, Photography: Rebecca Memoli, Bodypainting: Mario.Ink, Make-Up/Hair: Melissa Conforti, Kaylee Rhodes, Danny Torruella (Goddess), Silky (Performance), Performers: Sharon Hoyer, Emer Kinsella, Veronika Merklein, Chris Puente, Angela Trakas, Artists (Videoscreening ): Maria Raquel Cochez, Rachel Herrick, Frédéric Moffet, Aisha Oxley, Eileen Rosensteel, Julischka Stengele, Animation: Anja Hartmann, Artistic consultancy: Bernadette Anzengruber, Julia Kujat, Milen Miltchev, Barbara Toifl, Defibrillator-Team: Edgar Barba, Michael Lee Bridges, Jeanelle Chang, Andrea Decker, Giana Gambino, CV Peterson, Joseph Ravens, Laura Trejo, Fabienne Zujidwijk, Installation: Jessica Bortman, John Burkholder, Documentation: Arjuna Capulong, Sam Chau, Ying Sun, Barbara Toifl, Aprons: CV Peterson, Music advice: Matthias Richter, Brunch: Traci Fowler, Video Edit: Ying Sun
Supported by Austrian Cultural Forum New York City, Bundeskanzleramt Österreich, Radical Root Organic Farm and the Defibrillator Gallery