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On Meat and Mortality

Monday, April 22, 2013, 12:30–1:15 p.m.
Artist Elaine Tin Nyo and Heather Hess

On Meat and Mortality is a performance in the form of a food seminar led by artist Elaine Tin Nyo and interpreted by art historian Heather Hess. Through the use of live and video demonstrations the artist will open a discussion about our personal hierarchies with regard to eating animals and the value of animal life as a mirror on our own mortality. This interactive program will include: a knife skills demonstration, simple cooking and charcuterie concepts, and the tasting of various types of flesh. A cultural and aesthetic history of meat will provide context to the seminar. The discussion will include practical cooking skills as well as broader philosophical implications with regards to art and life. Meat raises the question of time in very specific ways: meat can be cured in several weeks, while the lifecycle of turning a pig into pork can vary from less than a year to more than five years, or, in the case of Elaine Tin Nyo’s project of transforming herself into a sausage, the process lasts a lifetime. These inherent qualities of decay and decomposition, as well as life and death, embodied by meat and its consumption also provides an opportunity to consider Dieter Roth, Joseph Beuys, Carolee Schneemann, and other time-based works on view in the Museum.

Elaine Tin Nyo is a conceptual artist who has kept a studio and kitchen in New York since 1984. She received a BFA in painting from Carnegie Mellon University. Her culinary education consists of the voracious study of cookbooks and practical experience alongside professional chefs and artisans around the world. She has cooked, performed, and exhibited internationally. Her current project, This Little Piggy, is the recipient of a 2013 Creative Capital Grant.

Heather Hess (PhD, Rutgers University), a specialist in central European decorative art and printmaking, studies the aesthetic, cultural, and social practices of food in art and at the table, especially the carving of meat. She is a lecturer at The Museum of Modern Art.

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