This is a recipe, in a sense.
When you think about it art is like cooking. You take your ingredients – be that eggs and flour, or ideas and actions – and you combine them in whatever way you see fit. You bash them, you bake them, you shake them, deep fry the fuck out of them. And then, from a collection of separate items, you have a completely new wholly different product.
If making art is like making a meal, then giving an artist talk is like sharing the recipe. So today I’d like to share my recipe with you. Some of it may come off as half-baked, some of it may be downright tasteless, but hopefully you’ll all go home with some food for thought.
A cursory Google search (and I mean cursory. I lost very little of my life to this task) resulted in over thirty food related slang terms for female genitalia.
Honey Pot / Cookie / Bikini Biscuit / Buttered Muffin / Beef Curtains / Meat Wallet / Badly Packed Kebab / Fuzzy Taco / Hair Pie / Fur Burger / Furry Flounder / Tuna Town / Hot Pocket / Meat Drapes
We get it, guys. You like to eat out.
It could be assumed that Meret Oppenheim’s Luncheon in Fur is simply a punch line to a schoolyard joke. To sip from the fur cup could easily and inconspicuously slip in amongst the terms above. It is not surprising, then, to learn that it was in fact Andre Breton that titled the work as such, consequently focusing the piece as a clever coital innuendo. Oppenheim had preferred to refer to it as only Object, and saw it as an exercise in transformation.
Perhaps now this work could be repurposed as a significant piece of protest.
The men in the Surrealist circles often used Oppenheim as a model and a muse.
Perhaps she felt like an object. As something admired for its delicacy and beauty.
Like a fine china set.
To bring a steaming cup to one’s mouth conjures the sensation of relaxation and pleasure. And while fur is nice to look at, it is not something you want in your mouth. I’d like to put forward that Oppenheim’s fur was the softest armour. A way of saying:
I am not safe to consume
The female form as a consumable product, as eye candy, is deeply ingrained within our society. The feminist performance collective The Waitresses explored the sexualisation of waitresses; as women who are there to provide a service, it is par for the course that waitresses are treated like lesser beings. Being verbally, physically, and sexually harassed is something waitresses are expected to take on the chin. It’s part of the job description. Founding member Jerri Allyn thinks this has something to do with people mixing up getting food with their mothers. She also thinks it’s because waitresses get paid to service customers, and therefore their job is seen as being synonymous with prostitution. In my own experience as a waitress men do seem to feel they have a certain right to your personal space and to your privacy. Being touched, being asked what your bra size is, being flirted with, are all to things to grin and bear. As is being screamed at when food is taking too long or is not prepared correctly. We are expected to handle both childish tantrums and ‘harmless’ sexual advances. We are expected to embody both the role of provider and sex object.
Of Mother and of Whore.
I would say the Mother Whore complex is intrinsically connected to food. The Mother is, of course, our first source of sustenance in this world. She is the ultimate provider. And the Whore is, of course, a piece of meat, something a guy can really sink his teeth into. Either way - as a provider, a sustainer, and a life force or as a product, an object, a collection of grade a cuts – it would appear women are destined to be consumed.
Now, here’s where things get a little hairy, and look, correct me if I’m wrong. But it seems to me that these two women we’re all so busy consuming, this woman that feeds you and this woman that feeds your desire; they’re one. I mean, for starters, food and sex are both essential to life, to being alive. We all need our Mother to provide for us, to sustain us, but we also need her to fuck us into existence.
Hannah Wilke’s work was all about being female, about the female experience in all its forms. Small wads of gum, chewed and folded and stuck to her face, manifest the cultural wounds of being female. The small wounds from the small wars we wage each day. It makes sense that she would choose gum, which is chewed up and then spat out, to represent us. Wilke used her own body as a mirror, to show us something about ourselves. Unfortunately, her work was deemed unpalatable because, in the words of Wilke,
I was never thought of as ‘Earth Mother’. I was always thought of as ‘Sex Goddess’. I think they are the same thing. 
With a face branded too beautiful for feminism, Wilke’s message was lost for too long. Unfortunately, sometimes we do eat our own. This patriarchal food chain has the power to make cannibals of us all.
Maybe that’s a little bit of what Sarah Lucas was touching on when she sat in front of the camera, her face deadpan, with two fried eggs resting against her shirt. Lucas used those eggs to encapsulate this same paradox; eggs sustain us, we eat them. But then they are also quintessentially female, as they are a vessel for new life. And then, within the context of Self Portrait with Fried Eggs they become human, specifically bodily, specifically tits. In Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab Lucas takes the analogy even further, removing her own body entirely, leaving only these food items, which become a crude, vulgar, slack, but not unrealistic representation of the female form. Although Lucas is utilising bawdy humour and visual punnery here to make a punchy point, the term badly packed kebab did come up during my cursory search for vaginal slang terms. Suddenly I am facing a punch line that truly leaves a bruise. It can be confronting to see yourself as others see you. Two fried eggs and a badly packed kebab; for some that’s the sum of our parts. The rest is just dressing.
This is a recipe, in a sense. It’s the recipe for how I made the work on these walls – or
perhaps more accurately, why. I hope it’s gone down alright. I hope I’ve given you
something to chew over, to digest. Thanks for having me for dinner.
 Montano, L. Performance Artists Talking in the Eighties, Ahmanson Murphy fine arts imprint, University of California, USA, p. 140.