Multispecies Picnic at Goddard College’s Making, Meaning, & Context Festival

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The Multispecies Picnic–an outgrowth of the Multispecies Salon–laid out a rare assortment of tantalizing delicacies in the cafeteria at Goddard College on October 15th, as part of a festival called Making, Meaning &Context: A Radical Reconsideration of Art’s Work, hosted by Goddard’s MFA-Interdisciplinary Arts program.
The Picnic itself was a hybrid installation/table conversation designed to encourage rumination on questions about who and how we eat, and how and by whom we are eaten, to name a few mouth-watering topics of discussion. The core picnic chefs/servers were yours truly R.A.W., Baker and Couiffeuse of Gnarly Cupcakes; Eben Kirksey, Master of Trophallaxis; and Deanna Pindell, Coy Leopardess and Shepherd (yes, both) of Tough Questions of Interspecies Ethics and Aesthetics.

The table setting for the Multispecies Picnic featured gorgeous placemats made by Deanna, each illuminating important questions in discourses about interspecies relations. The placemats featured questions to chew on through the lunchtime gathering, such as: “What happens to an oral culture if it loses its voice?” and, in regards to the pine beetle in the boreal forest, “Pestilence, scapegoat, or necessary part of a larger-than-human cycle?”

Multispecies Picnic-goers also had the opportunity to sample Lindsay Kelley’s Plumpinon, tearing with teeth into one of the bright-colored, recycled plastic bags that contain Kelley’s latest Starvation Seeds recipe. Plumpinon is a nut paste in which the artist employs the traditional “starvation nut” of her native New Mexico as a means to interrogate Nutriset’s patented humanitarian aid food, Plumpy’nut. Many who tasted the Plumpinon were pleasantly surprised to discover that an erudite and thought-provoking microbiopolitical intervention could taste so damn good.

The Picnic buffet table also featured a display of disturbing cupcakes provided by the Rural Alchemy Workshop. These cupcakes were watched over, as if guarded or maybe heralded, by the skull of a sow bearing the remains of a strange experimental implant. We know this much: this sow in her lifetime was involved in an experimental study that measured metabolic responses of the porcine body to various chemicals injected directly into her brain tissue through the implant. The ultimate goal of this experiment (in the context of funded animal-science research at a major American university) was to figure out ways to get the pigs fatter, faster and on less feed. Cheap pork for everybody, down at the local Piggly Wiggly.

How the skull came into the possession of of the R.A.W., along with her relation to the cupcakes she accompanied, are details that will have to wait for another day. A sunnier one, when a person is less chilled, less prone to faintheartedness, better able to buck up and face the implications of being an eater, a consumer, and an animal husband in 21st-century global technocracy.

More soon.

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