Sanguis Gratia Artis - Black Pudding Self-Portrait
2004, 12:18 minutes, colour, English
Beagles and Ramsay, in tapping their own blood in order to make some very special black puddings, are engaged in a self-portraiture in terms of the Lacanian real. That is to say, what is presented, or re-presented, in the blood sausages is not the appearance, the surface, of the artists but the stuff of their bodies. It is therefore appropriate to this idea of the real that there is something down-to-earth, playful and unexpected about the artists turning themselves into a low-quality meat product rather than something more grandiose or gourmet. The repulsion of the real seems to fit easily with the realities of the food industry.
The artist’s blood has been used in art before. However, what Beagles and Ramsay avoid is both the easy reinscription of blood back onto a meaningful register (e.g. Mark Quinn’s frozen blood head) and the dull attempt to provoke an audience with the raw stuff of blood (e.g. Franko B. spraying his H.I.V. positive blood over the catwalk). As Slavoj Zizek points out, there is nothing so tired as artists succumbing to the superego injunction to transgress and the subservient need to be recognized. These strategies rely upon and reinforce the suppression of ordinary and everyday experience in art and thereby protect a special role or place for the artist. It is the bathos and humour with which Beagles and Ramsay go about making a sight of themselves that retains the tension in using their own blood as food. Their blood remains out of place precisely to the extent that their activities avoid taking on the logic and status of making art.
Text by Mark Hutchinson 2005
Beagles & Ramsay first showed their black pudding self-portrait in 'Romantic Detachment’ at PS1 MoMA, New York in 2004. Further cooking performances were held in 2005 at the ‘Body Parts Festival’ at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, the Trade Apartment, London, CAPC Coimbra, Portugal, and the Fundacion Oeiras, Lisbon. The video documentary went on tour to Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Spitz Gallery, London, and Catalyst Arts, Belfast and was most recently shown in ‘Divided Selves; The Scottish Self-Portrait from the 17th Century to the Present’ Edinburgh and London 2006.
2 pints of fresh blood (1 pint extracted from Beagles and 1 pint from Ramsay)
1 pint of cream
12oz cooked pearl barley
1lb bacon fat and suet
Intestinal tubes from a pig or cow
1 or 2 onions, finely chopped
6oz oats, soaked overnight
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste
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