This is the second in a series of writing commissions from Helen Hester, Linda Stupart and Legacy Russell developed in relation to material from Kathy Rae Huffman’s media art library while installed at Res during 2016/17. The next stage of this programme will launch in January 2018.
Content warning: The following text contains descriptions of graphic and domestic violence and self-harm
What developments in cybernetics are applicable to the “kitchen” as you like to call it ?
By Linda Stupart
I think you misunderstood me. That refers to my actual kitchen, as in the place easiest to sterilise in the house and safest for operations. If I had a better theatre, I’d use it, but I really am confined to a kitchen right now.
Interview with Lepht Anonym, a British wetware hacker, 2011.
There was once a self-portrait of a man made entirely out of the man’s blood and it was kept in a freezer unit/plinth to keep its shape. This frozen head made out of a man’s blood was kept in the kitchen of a famous television cook because she was married to a very rich art collector who was photographed strangling her because he was her husband. One day the fridge in the television cook’s kitchen broke and some people came to fix the fridge. While they were fixing the fridge they accidentally unplugged the freezer unit containing the man’s head made out of blood. This blood head was worth millions of pounds because when men do abjection in art it’s like they’re connecting with their bodies for the first time in a radical stab at the surface that keeps them separate from everything else and when a white male artist attacks or pricks the surface of his body to withdraw blood he is not in fact attacking himself because this body (his body) is invisible until the moment of cut, or penetration, at which point both the audience and the art market say “wow”. Say, “wow, man explodes, man has body, man brave.”
Man dissolves into nothingness or into rivers of blood; disintegrates; becomes rich; reassembles immediately; a single drop of sweat or insides flicked off of a collar, perhaps.
When the freezer unit was unplugged the self-portrait melted and there was a stick in the middle and it looked like a frozen kebab. The famous television chef flicked her long dark hair, and she laughed for as long as she could laugh, which was until her husband walked into the room with fists clenched and forearms straining against an expensive shirt. He reaches towards her neck as if she is a silky feathered plump delicious chicken who will run headless from the kitchen when he is done with her.
In the cupboards there are so many sharp things: scissors, blades, cleavers, to keep her head. So we got a paring knife outta the kitchen, sharpened it with a chef’s steel, and cold-sterilised it with technicare. i got w3dyt to hold my hand down – it’s bruised to fuck now; he weighs about twice as much as i do – and press it sideways into the shallow incision i’d cut, as hard as he could.
It’s 1982 in Antarctica before worrying rates of subsurface ocean warming have been detected up against the base of ice sheets accelerating future global sea level rise.
A beat. The alarm is blaring throughout the building Her fist smashes the glass of the kitchen fire alarm. She pulls the lever. They run towards and through the tunnel. w3dyt carries a shotgun.
I don’t know what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is. They’re in the hallway and it’s chaos. Men, half-naked, bounce from their cubicle. Pulling on their pants, digging into shoes.
The collector is grappling with his belt buckle.
She is approaching the locked kennel door. The two dogs back ferociously and scratch at the door trying to get in. One is badly bloodied. The men hold back the two hysterical dogs. The dogs are hysterical because they have uteruses, that is because they are bitches. She undoes the latch and her and w3dyt enter the tunnel. The light has been broken and it is pitch black. She snaps on her flashlight. The men can’t contain the animals because men cannot understand that they are also animals and so shrink away from the tufts of hair the meat the whining teeth. The dogs burst into the room and smash into her and send her sprawling. Total confusion: the dogs; the men; the screeching; the blackness.
When her vision comes back the art collector’s hands are still clasped around her throat. When her vision comes back after everything goes completely black it slowly fades back. I think I would describe it like a snowstorm was in front of my eyes and slowly goes away over a few minutes and they’re not dressed for the snowstorm outside as they run from the building, from the dogs, the blackness, the mouthless but smiling, melting blood head.
it was a fucking good thing i told him to ignore the screaming
Outside the ice shelves lost their insulating cover of snow, laying bare a darker, icy surface that absorbed more heat from the sun. Melt ponds grew and metastasized across their surfaces.
The wave of blood catches up with them and the men too start to thaw, to join the portrait’s sliding back towards the glaciers.
Meltwater gushes from an ice cap
we had to insert the knife like that twice, jiggling it around inside the wound to make a cavity, and the second one hit the loop of nerve that runs under the fingertip. after that, i had to use scissors to excise the globbets of flesh that were still in the hole. the whole process took more than an hour and by the end i’d been screaming for so long i’d run out of voice. the insertion of the magnet was even harder, took longer than the cuts did. amazingly i was conscious through the whole thing, and we did it without any anaesthesia.
The magnet points north.
Her finger raises of its own accord.
Breaks his hold round her neck.
Dips in the cold, pink bloodwater.
Excises gobbets of flesh.
Steers her vision to the men turned into dogs turned into ice turned into faces split inside stomachs into spider legs into flesh dripping under mouths gushing frozen bile onto dog tooth tips to the loop of nerve that runs under the fingertip straight from the veins of the aliens trapped for millennia under the ice and now returning as it melts and melts.
Linda Stupart is an artist, writer, and educator from Cape Town, South Africa, recently completing their PhD in the Art Department at Goldsmiths College with a project engaged in new considerations of objectification and abjection. Their current work engages with queer theory, science fiction, environmental crises, magic, language, desire, and revenge.
Stupart has taught at the University of Cape Town, Goldsmiths, Camberwell Arts College, London College of Communication, and University of Reading. They have worked as workshop artist in education teams at South London Gallery, Battersea Arts Centre and Tate Galleries. Stupart is currently artist in residency at the Tate Britain Learning Gallery, working on an in-schools resource using art to talk about gender. Exhibitions include a solo show at Arcadia Missa 2016 and Gasworks 2016, Matt’s Gallery 2017, The Showroom and ICA 2014 in London. In 2017 they curated DEEPANGER TRUE LOVE TENDER CARE at The Horse Hospital. Published writing includes ‘novella, nVirus’, 2017