Hepatophagy is an artist’s multiple commissioned for the Whitney Museum’s “Initial Public Offerings” & given to the public for free. The Delftware-style coupe plate depicts a portrait of the artist engaging in auto-cannibalism. It is accompanied by a small chocolate truffle cast from a 3D MRI of the artist’s liver.
The illustration refers to the depictions of Brazilian Tupi rituals of cannibalism, which were sensationalized by Hans Staden, a Dutch explorer in the 16th century. The term “hepatophagy” refers to the liver and also makes homage to the 20th century Brazilian concept of antropofagia in art. In antropofagia, colonialism and Western hegemony are devoured, digested and excreted into new forms of art and abjection.
These multiples were served to an audience of over 150 people. They were invited to each partake of the artist’s body organs in the form of a chocolate liver replica. The moment of eating the chocolates amplified the coexistence of pleasure and the transgression of corporeal boundaries that is present in both cannibalism and eroticism. The multiplicity of mouths consuming the artist’s liver mimics the slow gnawing destruction of liver disease, with which the artist lives. In this way, the seductive materiality of the form solicits the activation of an experience that is slightly grotesque, diseased and taboo.Slide →
Illustrated porcelain & cast chocolate. 4.25”Thanks →
Margie Weinstein & Gemma Mangione at the Whitney's Public Programs, Jeff Nimeh, Michael McBean, MIT Media Lab, Brendan Gannon