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Two Minutes: Hunger: 5 variations

You can imagine how important food is to me- a vital ingredient to a life that does not lack in variety or flavour. When I make it myself, I usually know that it will be good- more so when I set my mind to making something yummy. It has many side-effects, part of which is a feeling that is very close to flow- the knowledge that you know where you are and what you are dealing with, surrendering yourself to combination and action unhampered by thought. And the result- it is even more rewarding as it has a tangible, edible outcome- is an excellent example for instant gratification. It smells delicious and fills you up with a warm feeling. 

In this ongoing art installation, the artist will perform the act of cooking without ingredients, without additions or, indeed, food. They will undertake to cook only water and salt, necessary to sustain basic life functions. This ongoing performance, conceptualised in solidarity with those who use their hunger to protest all over the word, will take place 24 hours a day in the shop window of the Soma gallery! Feel welcome to join, even for a short while, this act of artistic resistance.

is a random thought. 

… and then came the morning in which they came to clean the cage he lived in, and found the doors open- their hunger artist, the one who proclaimed hunger without ever acting on it- had finally decided to go and find some food. Maybe. Or maybe he had been stolen. They cleaned the cage and went back to their lives, not really knowing- or caring to solve the mystery. He had never asked for anything, save not to be fed, or gave them anything in return. The visitors had long given up tempting him with delicious carney- food. They doubted even he remembered the original reason he had chosen hunger as his medium, knew that the point where not eating became the ends of the exercise, rather than its means. Without anyone to watch, or care, or even notice his gesture, he had continued in it, relentlessly punishing himself, perfecting his art, himself and those who- very seldom- did reach him. Today, he was gone. And the gesture was gone with him. 

So the circus moved on, feeling at relief and impoverishment with him- although no-one watched him, it had improved their prestige to have an artiste de faim on their roll, made them feel more… charitable. Kind. Purposeful.

What they didn't see was that their caravan had gained a new member- one they could not recognise as the former artiste de faim- they had never seen him outside his cage…

The fourth version of hunger is a man, standing, silently, neither expressing, or asking for words, on a soap-box. Just asking for an existence that is invisible to the passers- by in their hurry and daily dos to be acknowledged for what he is, without the need to decorate that existence with long speeches or accusations. That, even in his silence, he is a person, even if not perceived immediately, or looked over, who has a right to that space. Thus by removing the verbal demand, or chant, or placard proclaiming that space to be his, it becomes his, by oversight, until someone notices. At which point, he will speak, not because he wants to express himself, but because he has to.

Five comes in terms of the hunger artists absence from a space you have gotten used to, leaving behind something you once thought you cherished. A declaration that the space is empty, leaving the onlooker to watch the space, and wonder: is it really empty, or was it simply a  declaration of a new stage in the performance? Is it a beneficial void the artist leaves, or is an absence to be endured? Is the artist standing, camouflaged, in the corner?

The absence of the  performer, their hunger, or a context to the space they leave behind, the viewer is doomed to watch the empty space until they have filled it with so much meaning of their own that it is no longer so- or take a quick look at the empty box and walk on. Those who do wait might find the artist appearing incognito next to them, munching candy floss and making in(s)ane comments about the possible meaning of the artwork, usually annoying the audience more than by remaining silent, or indeed, hungry. 


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