Extispicy in the Everyday 2018
Solo exhibition at Ivy Arts Centre, Stag Hill Campus, University of Guildford, 5 - 7 July 2018, alongside the performance Our Palace of Intestines 2018, the show, Extispicy in the Everyday accompanied the Digesting Ritual research event convened by Adam Alston.
Supported by the University for the Creative Arts Research Award, and University of Surrey Internal Research and Events Funding.
‘Extispicy in the Everyday’ manifesting as an exhibition at the Ivy Arts Centre at the University of Surrey draws on work from the project to explore the continued fascination with innards and entrails in the human imagination, through sculpture, print, collage/cutouts, video, and collected images as slide show. The ancient practice of extispicy, divination using the entrails 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 show centres around such intestinal forms from sacrificed sheep depicted on clay tablets housed in the Louvre in Paris, and the Vorderasiatische Museum in Berlin, fashioned in baked shortbread and gingerbread biscuit dough (Extispicy Biscuits 2016-18), displayed museum-like in a glass cabinet. They are also interpreted through the practice of noticing, collecting and photographing forms in daily life that depict materials which resemble the intestines and guts. A slideshow projecting over one hundred of these images into an arm chair in the space of a dropped shoelace, discarded cabling, a dead snake, or garden hose for example, accompany shelves in another display case of food with labyrinthine spiral forms found in the everyday, -French palmier biscuits, a cinnamon croissant swirl, swiss roll, and liquorice cartwheels.
The exhibition accompanies a live performance, Our Palace of Intestines, 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. Recalling Medieval coffyns, pies whose pastry containers were not always eaten, the ‘body’ was ‘raised’ from its oven/grave/womb, and re-birthed. 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.
Engaging the space of the arts centre with its tables and chairs, works were made to embrace as well as disrupt the space.The Our Palace of Intestines pie was mirrored on one table laid with a linen cloth. Printed with a photographic image of a previous incarnation of the pie in ruin with its actual remains sitting atop the cloth, it is as if we were witnessing the pie being cleaned up or the organisation of fragments discovered in an archeological dig. Image and material references to the hole of the oven where Our Palace of Intestines was cooked were also conveyed to the exhibition space in the form of Hole/oven/grave 2018, a printed table cloth of a black hole in earth, as well as the soil and migrant creatures in Corpse is a Beautiful Thought for the Worms: Stag(e) Hill 2018, a table top sculpture of a pile of earth and salt dough pinched forms, reference Baroque table decorations or mountains of candied fruits at a Renaissance banquet.
Download the list of works here