As the academic spotlight shifts from the effects of eating - demonstrable in renewed interest in areas such as fat and anorexia studies - to the affects of eating (the posthuman, vibrant matter, sensory studies, etc.), the very tactility and phenomenal nature of such sensory activity sometimes seems in a crisis of disappearance under the weight of its own glosses. Enter, however, the collaborative project MOUTH, comprising of Edia Connole and Scott Wilson, which stubbornly refutes this fear through a challenging and unique mode of praxis. Slated as "an actionist art project in culinary divinomics", MOUTH currently performs provocative and spectacular gastro-theoretical fea(s)ts in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
MOUTH's most recent project of June 2013, teaming up with artist Jessie Pressley Jones and the Korean Society of Ireland under the umbrella of Dublin public art initiative The Prosperity Project, saw them co-host and co-cater the paradoxically sumptuous Scarcity Banquet. Entitled "LAND", after iconic Korean writer Pak Kyung-Ni's 25-year literary production of the same name (Toji), the culinary experiment radiated from the concepts of hunger and famine which haunt both the Irish and Korean cultural memory. LAND explicitly engaged with the Korean notion of han, which is "formed from sentiments of loss and rage at the severance of wholeness and continuity between self and history", in order to offer a radical restaging of hunger, dining, the social, the political.
In the pointed absence of famine, a lush dining hall in Dublin's centre bore witness to dish upon dish of things-we-do-not-eat (grass, acorns, ox heart) and things-we-dare-not-eat (worms, rat) served with artistry appealing to the contemporary gourmand and defiantly celebrated across long, festive tables. And to intensify the experience/ordeal and capitalising upon the multi-sensory nature of the event, Wojtek Doroszuk’s short film Festin - featuring the gradual, seemingly inexorable consumption of a heavily-laden, seventeenth-century banquet by a host of non-human actors - looped endlessly against a back wall in a warped reflection of the night's consumption.
"Hunger changes the world, transgresses the taboos that structure social identities and hierarchies, radically changing perspectives on what should and should not be eaten, and with whom one can and cannot eat. ... Moving from han to MOUTH, then, in the wake of the dead and insurgency of the land, this the latest installment of The Prosperity Project marks the desire for a banquet in which living and eating well is the best tribute and revenge."
Further information on LAND can be found at The Prosperity Project website. More on MOUTH and upcoming projects can be found via their MOUTH blog, which also accommodates records of past events, including some texts from the P.E.S.T. symposium of 2012 (which we blogged about here), and a talk given by Michael O'Rourke at the LAND event (forthcoming). Previous banquets include: "En Soiree Culinaire par Georges Bataille, pour RLII", exploring the ecstasy on the cusp of horror (and vice-versa) of Georges Bataille; a sacrilegious "Blackened Mass for Quentin Meillassoux" in which the mouth plays divinity; an irreverent "test of faith" in the ascetic tradition; and others.