MZ.12 (How Taxing) 2018-2020
May 1st, 2020 4PM EST.
Meeting ID: 932 3503 2421
When I was growing up, my Ivorian parents would command my siblings and I to eat. My mother would hover over us, her finger pointing upward, ordering “Mange!” I always took this as an insult. On the one hand, she said this as direction for us to acknowledge the bounty that she and my father were able to provide for their first-generation, God-bless-America miracle children. And yet, on the other hand, her words were meant as a reminder of the many people back home who were going without in the Ivory Coast.
This behavior was always insulting to me, as I wondered, “How dare ces villageois (my parents) try to turn me into one of them!” All the women I wanted to be on television were white and skinny and actively not eating.
Bulimia presented itself as the obvious solution.
It was the best of both worlds! It allowed me to placate my mother, specifically, and to keep up appearances with my family, more generally. It also provided me with a vehicle to escape--picture 1994 white Jeep Wrangler with the top down, as in the movie Clueless. When my parents’ oppressive culture became too overbearing, I could simply ride off and resume my secret life, expelling every last chunk of theirs.
Looking back, I consider the purging as my earliest form of performance. This durational endurance action centered around domestic convention as a cultural critique. Throw in an art history reference, and I might as well have made it in 2018.
My practice today remains centered on consuming and digesting cultures and their practices through the conflation of domestic and quotidian experience and labor with art production: overeating and undereating at the same time; making a mess and cleaning it up. I think you get it.
But now, instead of vomiting, I maintain my figure by crafting a self-contained (and self-reflexive) critique of myself and those around me, which comes out of me as a pinkish-greenish, chucky, stinky synthesis of labor practices, histories and ideologies mediated by the spectacle of my existence.
I hope you enjoy it!