Digesting Ritual 2019

Digesting Ritual 2019


Artist book publication with Adam Alston, designed by Kristen Fraser. Published by bookRoom Press, Farnham, 2019.


Inkjet printed on Hahnemuhle Photo Book and Album 220gsm concertina, containing two three-hole stitched bound pamphlets, inkjet printed on Munken Lynx 120gsm, a digitally printed cotton-linen insert, back page and shortbread biscuit in a bag, all contained within a belly band.


Produced and bound by Amanda Couch and Kristen Fraser.


Digesting Ritual is what remains of solo exhibition, Extispicy in the Everyday at the Ivy Arts Centre, and performance, Our Palace of Intestines for Stag(e) Hill at University of Surrey, in July 2018.


Extispicy in the Everyday and Our Palace of Intestines for Stag(e) Hill draws on the ancient practice of extispicy, divination using the entrails which was one of the most omnipresent of divination practices across the ancient world. As well as the liver and other organs, the colon or ‘palace of the intestines’ was also observed. Much of the work in the exhibition centres around such intestinal forms from sacrificed sheep depicted on clay tablets housed in the Louvre in Paris, and the Vorderasiatische Museum in Berlin. The exhibition accompanies a live performance, Our Palace of Intestines for Stag(e) Hill in which a sacrificial body, a large raised pie, was interred and cooked in an earth oven fashioned from a hole excavated on the Stag Hill campus of the university. Following a procession to the Ivy Arts Centre, an extispicy was invoked through exercises, guiding audience-participants to conjure an experience of their own innards, and the cutting into the pie revealing a labyrinthine venison sausage, the convolutions of which were inspected. In a commensal act, audience-participants consumed the pie, ingesting its body, engaging in another form of extispicy or examination through the proximal senses of smell, touch and taste.


Photographs in concertina by Eleanor Dickens, Jolyon Gardner and Amanda Couch. Guildford St Nicholas tithe map, 1839. (Surrey History Centre: 864/1/75). Reproduced by permission of Surrey History Centre. All other graphic design and artwork by Kristen Fraser. Special thanks to: Ross and Chris Couch, Jolyon Gardner, Simon Smith and the Estates and Facilities, Horticultural and Landscaping department, University of Surrey, Eleanor Dickens, David Hill, Amy Tribe, Steve Reid, Rachel Hann, Patrick Duggan, Beth Preen, Scott Eveleigh, Euan Henderson, Pippa Treharne, Robert Shaughnessy, Emmanuelle Waeckerle, David Dryden, Sarah Blissett, Jodie Hawkes, Steve Fossey, and Paul Geary.


The Digesting Ritual event was convened by Dr. Adam Alston, GSA, University of Surrey, July 2018 and was generously supported by a University for the Creative Arts Research Award and GSA, University of Surrey, Research and Events Funding.


The book is held in collection of the Wellcome Library, London, Arts University Bournemouth Library and the Surrey History Centre, Woking.

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