Handbound book, 400 pages, 2 x 2 x 2.2 in / 5 x 5 x 5.6 cm Single-channel video, 10 min 15 sec, no audio 2018
When asked about the the highest praise he had ever received, writer and illustrator of children’s books Maurice Sendak talked about how a little boy’s mother had written to him about her son, who, upon receiving Sendak’s handwritten letter and doodles as response to the boy’s fan mail, had loved it so much he ate it.
Issei Sagawa, through botched international legal processes and media sensationalism, became a free man and a minor celebrity after having killed and cannibalized his Sorbonne classmate Renée Hartevelt, whom he chose for her health and beauty, characteristics he believed he lacked.
Wheat is a worldwide staple food, a cereal grain grown on more land area than any other food crop. Wheat paste is mixed and heated flour and water: a strong, archival quality adhesive used in bookmaking since antiquity. We can think of cooking and bookmaking as opposite practices in the sense that food is meant to be eaten, to be “finished” while at a larger scale it is being perpetually replenished — leftovers and unsold food cause cultural disrespect, fines, and the global crises of hunger and food waste — whereas books, in general, are made to last for as long as possible for the dissemination and preservation of information.
New information and experience from visits to a specialty dairy farm and a contemporary kitchen reinforced my aloofness towards food production and preparation: I do not do it or enjoy it because of the (sometimes immense) imbalance between the time and effort it requires vis-à-vis eating. It is infinitely more interesting to me to watch others’ gestures of it — as a child I loved to watch my father cook.
In this mouth- or palm-sized book is a poem or language game consisting of carefully written and arranged fragments, collected and presented for others to hold and sift through, disregard and reassemble. The writing process was patterned after this most basic illustration: What is needed? What must be done with it? And to make what? (To) Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet for a minute. Produce, trimmings, extracts. Something constructed and complete but can be played with, broken down, reorganized; open to assembly into something else, answering to whoever is doing the undoing.
To eat is to survive to be hungry Group exhibition curated by Gary-Ross Pastrana
Mabini Projects, Manila 11 May - 8 June 2018