Metabolizing the Arts
248 pp., 6 x 9 in, 21 color illus., 24 b&w illus.
- Published: December 5, 2023
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An exploration of food, ingestion, and digestion in the emerging field of the metabolic arts.
Food appears everywhere in the arts. But what happens after viewers carry food away in the intestinal networks activated by social practice art, the same way digestion turns food into a body? Exploring the emerging field of metabolic arts, After Eating claims digestion and metabolism as key cultural, creative, and political processes that demand attention. Taking an artist-centered approach to nutrition, Lindsay Kelley cultivates a neglected middle ground between the everyday and the scientific, using metabolism as a lens through which to read and write about art.
Divided into two parts and full of playful chapter titles such as “Food Babies” and “Poop Circus,” After Eating investigates multiple facets of the sociocultural implications of body image and body process in body art from the 1970s to the present. By engaging the notion of “after” as an artistic homage or tribute, metabolism moves beyond the cell to transform into a method for responding to the most difficult cultural, philosophical, and political challenges of the contemporary moment. Metabolic reading rethinks feminist, queer, bioart, installation, and performance projects, providing artists, students, and teachers with new pathways into art theory.
“Inhabiting Lindsay Kelley's writing is always a nourishing affair, replete with metabolic surprises and sobering delights of a worldly kind. After Eating is a repast of playful and serious courses of past and current body art, bioart, and performance. The reader is enticed to digest and incorporate practical theory and theoretical practice to compose bodies that matter.”
Donna J. Haraway, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz
“Between mouths and anuses at all scales, After Eating reveals a brilliant slurry of feminist art practice as planetary theory. Kelley's timely tour de force reminds us that digestion and metabolism can and do remake the world.”
Astrida Neimanis, Canada Research Chair in Feminist Environmental Studies, University of British Columbia