In my video Making A Meal (2016), a masked woman struggles with the simple and straightforward task of making tomato soup and a loaf of biscuits. Each step of this process is unnecessarily challenging for her, and we watch as she struggles to open the can of soup, cut cheese, stir the soup in the pot, and open the tin of biscuits in order to bake them. To make matters worse, yarn is superfluously massaged into the bread dough, creating a gnarled and tangled web within the bread as it’s baked. Once both the bread and the soup have been prepared, they are brought to a table where a male figure wearing a mask is waiting, ready to dine with the woman. When she sits down at the table they simultaneously remove the masks they are wearing to put on different masks–a unique pre-dinner ritual. They begin to feed each other the soup and dig their fingers into the cooked bread, pulling it into their mouths. The yarn that has been baked inside is exposed, functioning as a direct connection between the two of them. Due to their blindness from the masks, this action is clumsy; not only is the preparation of the meal inelegant, their attempt at sharing this meal is uncoordinated as well. They continue to struggle to stuff themselves until their mouths are bulging, absorbed in this act of grotesque excess.
In the process of conceptualizing Making A Meal, I was thinking a lot about failure, frustration, consumption, and perseverance. I moved from San Francisco to New York shortly after the 2016 presidential election, and was in denial about the effect these dramatic transitions had on my wellbeing. In my personal state of make-believe, I wanted to create a world that mimicked my own. Instead of confronting the challenges of their world, the individuals in this work painstakingly make a meal out of their circumstances and consume it with shared blindness and crudeness. Rather than acknowledge the direness of their situation, they work to create a substandard form of sustenance that ultimately makes more of a mess and lacks any value. In this fictional space, the dramatization of the mundane is accepted and normalized, and the tension that arises through repetition of failure is ignored.