Eat Me / Drink Me / Love Me: The New Museum (New York, with Lyne Lapointe, 1989)
Invited in 1987 by curator Bill Olander to create a work for The New Museum, we devised a project about the interplay between social convention, literature, and natural history. Eat Me / Drink Me /Love Me took its title from a section of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, in an installation that simultaneously both domesticated and rendered ‘wild’ the white cube of the contemporary art museum. Cerebral and yet sensual, the project included mixed media works that are meditations on organic matter, animal life, female sexuality, Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae, and 19th century proto-feminist poetry.
Here is a quote from the artists’ statement we wrote for the exhibition:
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me
Lizzie to Laura in Goblin Market, by Christina Rossetti (1862)
Eat Me / Drink Me / Love Me proposes a quest for sites of pleasure, for the expression of pleasure, and for the acknowledgement of pleasure for women, inside the rigid cultural institutions which are available to us.
This project gestures to historical precedents in the search for pleasure against all odds by hearkening to similar strategies on the part of creative women within an entirely other institution: that of literature.
Eat Me / Drink Me / Love Me forays into natural history — botany, zoology and other ‘pastoral’ pursuits — and questions the hidden interests of its masculinist construction of ‘Eden.’ We believe that there is another ‘garden’ very different from this one, in spite of a partially shared iconography. It is the interior garden women create for ourselves, wherein we seek a complex sexual refuge, and which is a site of resistance.
In a sense, it was an extension of the approach we took in La Donna Delinquenta — seeking fissures for self-realisation inside dominant cultural tropes — but this time it was more pointedly feminist. New Museum founder, the visionary pragmatist Marcia Tucker, dubbed the work and our approach ‘critical romanticism.’ Sadly, Bill Olander did not live to see the project installed: he died of AIDS earlier that year — one of many entirely unnecessary deaths that have left a very different cultural landscape than the one in which many of us had hoped we would now be living and working.
We went on to create The Wilds and The Deep with Creative Time, and to exhibit in several New York galleries during this period, including Curt Marcus Gallery, Jack Shainman Gallery, PPOW, Wessell O’Connor, and shows curated by Nan Goldin and Independent Curators International among others. Work from Eat Me / Drink Me / Love Me was acquired by collectors such as Vera List, Richard Ekstract, Thomas Ammann, Joel and Zoe Dictrow, Pierre Bourgie, and others. The largest elements of the project — a worked floor entitled Wild Nights / The Unswept Floor and its accompaniment, Miasme/Hyene et la Valve — are now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
Lyne Lapointe, who also has a highly regarded solo career, has recently exhibited at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York and at Galérie Pierre Francois Ouellette in Montreal (February and March 2012).
[Image References: all images are of Eat Me / Drink Me / Love Me, by Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe (1989). Black and white photographs are by Marik Boudreau.]