carmen alemán

This body of work uses food as an art material and as a medium to convey certain themes. Food has been used extensively in art for centuries and continues to be used in contemporary art. Women, in particular, are intimately connected to food, due to cultural, social, political and psychological issues, and their use of food as a medium is an expression of their female identity.

"Food is culturally gendered as feminine because it provides a means of discovering unresolved feelings relating to feminine identity and maternal loss"

The project is divided into two separate pieces:
- Part 1: "Meating"
- Part 2: "Eggsistence"

My intention is to explore themes through the use of food as a metaphor. I aim to explore issues of gender, sexuality, beauty, power, the passing of time and death.

"Meating"

"Meating" is an art video about the consumption of meat, power, sex and death. In the video the scene represents a bullfight. A woman attempts to eat a steak. However, when she cuts the steak, the meat comes alive and tries to evade her knife. Eventually, bleeding, as a bull would do, it dies of exhaustion. In this scenario, the plate is the arena, the meat is the bull and the woman is the torero (bullfighter).  All the elements in the piece have clear references to the 'corrida' (bullfight) and all the paraphernalia surrounding it; the aesthetics of the decor, the colour red dominating throughout the piece, the rituals, and even the gestures of the torero.

Power is a strong theme throughout the piece. Bullfighting is normally used to show the power of man over beast. In this case, the torero is a woman. I used a woman to show that they also have an equal say in society, can fight and be as strong as men. The bull is male. In this case the woman wins and the bull or 'macho' gets defeated. The woman eats the man to gain the power, strength recognition men have in society.  In western food culture, women are generally expected to cook and serve the food, but men are the ritual providers. So by adopting the male role, the woman gains power and the 'macho' male loses it.

Another issue raised is meat consumption. The fact that the food used here is meat is very important and raises other social, cultural and political issues. Meat represents the paradox of good and bad. It is seen as a vital nutrition, a symbol of wealth and prestige, but it can symbolise racial superiority, domination and power. It can be unclean, unethical and unsafe. Meat satisfies our bodies but also feeds our minds. By eating meat, we gain power and strength. Meat and blood are symbols of human supremacy.

Literally, meeting means to come together, or make contact with something or someone, a union. So the title "Meating", suggests an encounter between man (meat) and woman (nature).  During the "meating" the woman and man chase each other and finally make love (act of the woman stabbing the meat, a role reversal). It is all passionate and violent, but that is human nature. Here the woman is in control of her body and the situation. The man is cooked, chased and eaten, in a metaphorical sense.

Finally, death is shown through the elements of blood and raw meat and by exhaustion of the body and power as symbolised in bullfighting. It is quite a radical and aggressive piece of work, softened by the way it is presented. Black humour pervades the piece.  Through the animation, the fight is made to look comical, even though serious issues are raised.

"Meating" uses red throughout the video, the dress of the woman, the serviette or red cape, the raw meat, the blood and the wine. Blood is pivotal to the meat system and fundamental to human culture, Red suggests ideas of danger, violence or revolution. Red is the colour of aggression, power or warning. It stands out and draws our attention.