In the Flesh, Part 1: Exhibition catalogue
In the Flesh Part I: Subliminal Substances features artists whose work utilizes inorganic ingestible elements found in food, medicines, cosmetics and technological devices. Some of these consumable and non-consumable products emit chemicals and radioactivity that our bodies absorb through the skin. Inorganic ingestibles include, but are not limited to, GMOs, pathogens, hormones, pesticides, steroids, preservatives, radiation and plastics. Such substances seep into our bodies more and more consistently, while the term “organic” is applied liberally and FDA regulations continue to decrease.
Through the work of Ivana Basic, Encyclopedia, Inc., Nicolas Lobo and Sean Raspet, In the Flesh explores the ways in which our bodies very slowly adapt, morph and mutate as a result of the increasing seamlessness between what we think of as purely organic or natural matter, such as skin and flesh, and inorganic, ingestible substances that are regularly consumed. Furthermore, In the Flesh imagines how such porosity will eventually, over time, alter human bodies and shift what is considered “natural.”
For Ivana Basic, these ideas take shape through her life-like, sci-fi sculptural incarnations that reference bodily, fleshy interiors as well as otherworldly surfaces and textures. Encyclopedia, Inc.’s work begins with research on yellowcake uranium and radioactivity. Their findings bring forth connections to foods such as Betty Crocker cake mix, the longevity of contaminated produce, and radioactive, glow-in-the-dark objects. Their installation evokes a sense of paranoia that perpetually bubbles just below the neatly packaged surfaces of consumer goods. Nicolas Lobo, whose work often involves biochemical processes, presents a new video that features an unusual material; soy sauce produced from fermented human hair. Lobo’s piece is inspired by a soy sauce rumored to have been made with hair collected from salons and hospitals in China. Sean Raspet experiments with molecular manipulation to create artificial flavors and scents that are dissolved in water. His designs have been used to produce new flavor profiles for Soylent, a food supplement that promotes a new kind of lifestyle which surpasses the inconvenience of ingesting real, organic food by rendering it nutritionally unnecessary.
These artists open up unconventional ways of thinking about food production and consumption. The four projects take diet, ingestion, lifestyle options and their accompanying marketing strategies as their starting points. Each artist, in their own way, pushes contemporary conditions to extremes, envisioning potential realities that we may one day face. In this sense their works not only address concerns for bodily and planetary health, they postulate that issues surrounding notions of organic and inorganic matter will affect the sustainability of the human race as we know it.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a PDF catalogue with an essay by Courtney Malick and contributions from Ivana Basic, Lucy Chinen, Encyclopedia, Inc., Nicolas Lobo, and Sean Raspet, designed by Content is Relative. The catalogue is available at Martos Gallery’s website.