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Looks like my latest literary effort was a little hard to swallow so i’m publishing it here— unexpurgated babes!

WARNING: Images and text are stomach turning! Proceed at your own risk!

Eat Me: All of Us Cannibals

Will Cotton - Consuming Folly

La Maison Rouge would like to have you for lunch. Literally. Until May 15, the private gallery near the Quai de la Rapée is serving up a rich selection of pieces based on the theme of cannibalism, from which you can sample a variety of artists’ palates. A recipe for success or a display of bad taste?

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Are you tired of being served up the same, stale art, gallery after gallery and museum after museum? Well, La Maison Rouge has whipped up an idea that may be hard to swallow, but will certainly spice up the Parisian art scene. Tous Cannibales is the hot show the private art foundation at 10 Boulevard de la Bastille has cooked up. A gutsy display, the show isn’t for everyone and those without the stomach for this kind of fare might best be served staying at home.

The works presented are an eclectic mix of paintings, sculptures, engravings, etchings, photographs and even videos all linked (though some quite tenuously) to the theme of people eating people. “Eat your heart out” has just taken on a whole new meaning.

Melissa Ichiuji - Kissy Kissy

The title of the expo (Tous Cannibales – We Are All of Us Cannibals) comes from a quote by the “Father of Modern Anthropology”, Frenchman Claude Lévi-Strauss (no relation to the jeans magnate). “We are all cannibals. The simplest way to identify with another is still to eat them,” he states in a 1993 article appearing in La Repubblica. This artistic smorgasbord takes the point of view that with cloning, organ transplants and virtual selves, we are “eaten” by modern society.

The show is quite a spread and cut into six distinct sections like so many banquet courses. Some of the choice tidbits dished up in each section are…

Introduction:  From the Devil to Representations of the Other, The Barbarian, The Outside

Joel-Peter Witkin - Feast of Fools (WARNING - Click to see full gross version)

For starters, among other etchings and paintings, there’s a historical backdrop decorated with a photographic collection of real life cannibals, be they tribesmen or criminals. Unfortunately (or fortunately, it all depends on how well you stomach this raw brand of art), none of the black & white, postcard sized shots actually show one individual ingesting another.

Hungry for more, leave the entrée and make your way deep into the…

Flesh-space

The meat of the exposition lays it on thick. John Isaacs’ “Fat Man – The Matrix of Amnesia” is a heavy sculpture that risks weighing on your stomach as well as your soul. Centered in the room, it devours the impact of other works on the side, including the original meat dress by Jana Sterbak that inspired Lady Gaga’s VMA haute cuisine couture.

John Isaacs' "Fat Man - The Matrix of Amnesia"

Before you get your fill of the expo, move on to press the flesh of…

Francisco de Goya and His Heirs

In the same vein, the following section takes some of Francisco de Goya’s more graphic arts. After a selection of his darker etchings (“A Great Feat! With Dead Men!”, “Much to Suck” and “How They Pluck Her!”) others of his bloodline manifest their works. Yasumasa Morimura (there’s a mouthful) goes so far as to remake de Goya’s seminal “Saturn Devouring His Son” in a photograph with a twist (this is not a reference to the object of the subject’s nudity).

 

Yasumasa Morimura - Exchange of Devouring

Of Rituals Sacred…and Profane

Keeping in the flow, the exposition continues with the theme of breastfeeding and people eating. Here you will get a taste of the cutlery used in ritualistic cannibalism but also the more sublime milk of human kindness. Suffused with a couple of Bettina Rheims’ iconic photographs is the chilling “#225” by Cindy Sherman, which shows an eerie reconstitution of a middle-ages painting milking rotten artists’ ignorance of female anatomy. The ‘Rituals…’ appendage of the expo concludes with “Melons”, the tongue-in-cheek video representation of performance artist Patty Chang breast feeding from her own big, ripe melons.

Cindy Sherman - Unititled #225 / Patty Chang - Melons

The Two Faces of Fairy Tales

The next section regurgitates childhood fables peopled with ogres, monsters and witches who find children especially sweet. Perhaps a little more bitter are the tater tots in Jérôme Zonder’s “Jeu d’enfants n°1” which throws up on the canvas a pencil sketch of two distasteful  moppets with a knife mocking the adult they’ve tied to a child’s chair.

 

Jérôme Zonder - Jeu d’enfants n°1

Hope you saved room for dessert…

The Consumable Body

People: the other white meat. The collation concludes with real finger food. “The Consumable Body” serves up glazed body part sculptures, the luscious “Consuming Folly” by Will Cotton and the comic sadness of Theo Mercier’s spaghetti man, “Le Solitaire”. These pieces will fill you up and leave you with your appetite for art sated.

 

Theo Mercier - Le Solitaire

In a nutshell, the only way of deciding if the show succeeds in its goal of presenting and representing anthropophagy beyond its shock value or if La Maison Rouge has bitten off more than it can chew is to simply come and sample it for yourself. It all depends on your taste…

Tous Cannibales at La Maison Rouge: http://www.lamaisonrouge.org/spip.php?article727&date=cours

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