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

The Premises Gallery, Johannesburg, 2002-2002.

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) showreel

featuring selected South African video artworks produced between 1990-2002. 16th Recontres Video Art

Plastique Cenre d’Art Contemporain de Basses-Normandie, France.   



Corpa Delicata (meaning delicate and/or delicious bodies) was a live performance and installation, in which handmade wax chocolates melt down to a liquid state. The meltdown is a physical enactment of the reciprocal relations between excess

and control, order and chaos, form and formlessness. 


Corpa Delicata plays out in three 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 three 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.

Corpa Delicata 28:26