Featured Making a meal of it in #omnomnom

Making a meal of it in #omnomnom

Would you eat food off a naked body? Gavin Krastin’s #omnomnom plays into social media dynamics with its hashtag, but more by its grotesque sensationalism. Like Serbian-born performance artist Marina Abramovic, he manipulates the public to reveal themselves with base crudity.

The piece is couched in ideas of ritual and beauty, which, you would imagine, would cause the general public to steel themselves against eating. On opening night, this was not the case: people quaffed and laughed. They played with the food and turned their backs on the body before them. When they’d finished, they took selfies, alongside the body. It was like a post-hunt orgy.

Gavin Krastin's #omnomnom, an anticipated performance art piece. Photo: Sarah Schäfer

Gavin Krastin’s #omnomnom, a manipulative performance art piece. Photo: Sarah Schäfer.

More like Peter Greenaway who directed The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover, than like Kenny Kunene and his sushi-eating antics, this work is performed in a red-brick space that feels quasi-religious in structure, filled with set tables, under the benign gaze of St Paul and Mother Cecile.

In the centre, is Krastin. He’s naked. He has a grapefruit on his genitals. He lies on a steel table. Slowly, and with a great sense of ritual, his assistant places food on his body. Sushi. Fancily cut cucumbers. Meat. Beans. Hamburgers and chips. The audience is invited to partake.

Gavin Krastin's #omnomnom, an anticipated performance art piece. Photo: Sarah Schäfer

Tripych of treats. Photo: Sarah Schäfer

In 1974, Marina Abramović, considered the genre’s grandmother, created a work called Rhythm O. She presented herself to the public in a gallery. Do what you will to me, was her message. Around her was an array of articles, from a loaded gun to blades, thorny roses and candles. After six hours, all her clothes had been removed from her body with a blade. The cocked gun had been put to her forehead. She was bleeding from thorns poked into her stomach.

Something similar happens with Krastin’s work, only it is softer and it loses its aesthetic momentum. Given how it manipulates its audience, every detail in it should have been impeccably clinical: you should not have seen the KFC or the Gino’s logo in the work. Or others. The gold leaf on his face should have been impossibly perfect. Tattiness corrupts the texture of the work.

But one moves away from this outlandish gesture with a sense of hollowness. Yes, it exposes its audience’s moral brutality. But what happens next? You go home, having eaten your fill.

View the #omnomnom slideshow and video here

– Robyn Sassen, Cue

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