I don’t know if you’re into Facebook Live streaming, although lately people seem to be leaving Facebook rather than trying to find new ways of spending time on it. But a lot of people seem to have tuned in to a stream on 6 March 2018 of a performance named ‘Eschatology’ by artist Arturs Bērziņš at Museum LV un Grata JJ, in Riga, Latvia.
The footage showed Bērziņš’s assistant pulling on a white medical outfit, scalpel in hand, and cutting chunks of meat from the backs of two volunteers, one male and one female, apparently without anaesthetic. The assistant then fries the meat it in a large black pan.
I’ll spare you the unkindest cut, but you can, if you wish, see it on Youtube:
A small audience watches, phone cameras ready, and a couple more stand in the doorway, perhaps anticipating the need for a quick getaway. Spooky music plays as the assistant adds salt and pepper and perhaps some more exotic spices to the meagre meal and feeds the fragments to the volunteers.
The artist later said: “It’s not fake, but it also is not cannibalism. Each of them ate his or her own piece of skin after (a) scarification procedure. Otherwise fingernail gnawing also can be proclaimed as cannibalism.” Something to consider next time you can’t be bothered reaching for the nail-file.
The artist later commented “What we do daily with ourselves is much worse than any performance. The viewer has to face the genuineness. Genuine pain. Genuine action that has stepped out of abstraction into a real world. The viewer needs to be intellectually prepared for such an experience as this. Otherwise they’ll simply claim I have a screw loose and return to the infernal trance of everyday life.”
Is this the new face of competitive cooking shows?