2001-2002

CorpaDelicata

Public performance, installation, video artwork and documentation of the 3 phases of the work on dvd.

The Premises Gallery, Johannesburg.

The video was exhibited on Translocations/How Latitudes Become Forms (2003), South African schedule of the Translocation Channel, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, and on the In No Particular Order (2002) show reel, featuring selected South African video artworks produced between 1990-2002. 16th Recontres Video Art PlastiqueCenred’ArtContemporain de Basses-Normandie, France.

CorpaDelicata (meaning delicate and/or delicious bodies) extends an idea presented in the video installation titled Corpus Delecti(2001, Carinus Art Centre, Grahamstown) in which handmade wax chocolates meltdown to a liquid state. The meltdown is a physical enactment of the reciprocal relations between excess and control, order and chaos, form and formlessness explored in previous works (1993-2001).

CorpaDelicataplays out in 3 phases: an installation, a public performance and a video production. The installation features 750 intricately hand-carved, flesh-like, sculptural wax chocolates arranged in an ordered grid on an aluminium bed. The performance begins with the lighting of gas burners concealed under its surface. As the metal heats, the wax chocolates change from solid, to viscous, and then to liquid states. Projected graphic footage of a ‘tummy-tuck’ operation forms a looped backdrop to the meltdown. While the projected footage depicts the unruly female body being subjected to bio-scientific reordering, lack of control figures in the unpredictability of the meltdown process. As the chocolates melt, they slide towards a plughole positioned in the centre of the bed, leaving greasy trails over the formerly pristine surface. The molten wax flowing through the plughole is excreted through an outlet pipe protruding through the metal facing. At the end of the meltdown, a deep crimson residue of solidified wax remains on the bed, forming an abject landscape.

The video artwork contains footage that I edited from the 3 cameras used to film the performance. In the video, the chocolates melt and are reconstituted to their original solid form in an infinite loop, evoking a ‘viscous cycle’ of indulgence and purging, loss and gain. In its evocation of the abject, firm boundaries of identity are transgressed, as the video plays out a Sisyphean cycle of dissolving and returning flesh.