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i CANDY LAND BY BRITTNEY CHAMPAGNE A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Richard Herzog Saras ota, FL May 2011
ii Table of Contents List of Illustrations.iii Abstract..............................................................................iv Introduction................................................................. ........1 History.................................................................................2 Processes.............................................................................6 Influences.......................................................... ..................7 Artwork............................................... ..............................15 Automata................................ ..............................15 Prints....................................................................17 Molds...................................................................19 Conclusion........................................................................24 Plate List...........................................................................25 Bibliog raphy....................................... ..............................40
iii List of Illustrations fig 1. Janine Antoni, Saddle 2001. Detail from the Wans Foundation in Knislinge, Sweden. fig 2. Brittney Champagne, Part II 2011. fig 3. Janine Antoni, Gnaw (detail) 1992. Detail from the MOMA in New York, New York. fig 4. Arthur Ganson, Machine with Grease 1992 Detail courtesy of the artist. fig 5. Brittney Champagne, Part I. 2011. fig 6. Cildo Meireles, Misso/Misses ( How to Build Cathedrals ) (detail). 1987. Detail from the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin. fig 7. Cildo Meireles, Inseres em Circuitos Ideolgicos (Insertions in Ideological Circuits) 1970. Detail from the MOMA in New York, Ne w York. fig 8. Luis Camnitzer, Leftovers. 1992. Detail from the Tate Modern in London, England. fig 9. Luis Camnitzer, Los San Patricios (detail) 1992. Detail from the Lehman College Art Gallery in New York, New York. fig 10. Luis Camnitzer, Los San P atricios (detail) 1992. Detail from the Lehman College Art Gallery in New York, New York. fig 11. Brittney Champagne, Molasses Fountain 2011. fig 12. Brittney Champagne, 1868. 2011. fig 13. Brittney Champagne, Sugar. 2011. fig 14. Brittney Champagne, I ce. 2011. fig 15. Brittney Champagne, 1845. 2011. fig 16. Brittney Champagne, untitled (ice). 2011.
iv CANDY LAND Brittney Champagne New College of Florida, 2011 ABSTRACT Sweetness functions as a symbolic prop for human desire. My art work questions the cost of this desire, troubling what can and should be consumed, while negotiating the environmental and social histories of human desire for sugar. This project generates a subjective history for the strange, perhaps unnatural, commoditi es that people desire, through which I aim to plant them more firmly into the natural world from which they have been separated by so much plastic, foil, and ornament. Richard Herzog Humanities
1 Introduction Despite its nonexistent nutrition al value, our desire for sweetness has never been more great or wide spread. Beyond simply being 'maladaptive', sugar represents a history of human suffering and environmental degradation that continue to effect those places in the periphery of Western con cern, troubling the notion that this modern necessity is, in fact, necessary and inexhaustible. An individual can choose to consume Splenda¨ if sugar has too many calories, or else corn syrup if it is too expensive. Western desire for sweetness has evolved from a dependence on sugar, toward a market for the cheapest, highest concentration of sweetness that science can produce. I utilize the West's historical relationship with sugar, defined by environmental and human exploitation, as a lens through which t o understand our contemporary eating habits. With sugar's troubled history as my focus, I reference the mechanical, industrial modes or producing food in the modern world. I utilize the repetition of moldmaking and printmaking in order to explore the ways in which food is being mass produced and reduced to the most saleable final product. The forms these mass produced objects take, however, reference consumer desire and the physical and psychological distance consumers in industrialized societies have from the food being produced largely in nations in our periphery. Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire utilizes a theory which is present, albeit subtly, in the way we assign value to and consume food. Specifically, Pollan addresses the things that humans des ire; sustenance, beauty, intoxication, and sweetness. According to Pollan, plants that have these qualities are evolutionarily rewarded for their usefulness to humans via increased propagation and protection. Pollan is, essentially, attempting to create a history for commonplace, domestic products, whose consumption consumers
2 take for granted; we desire flowers because they are beautiful; sugar, because it is sweet. These simple assertions are unsatisfying when one attempts to explain our sugar saturated di ets. It is necessary, therefore, to reexamine the relationship we have with our food; its variety of sources, modes of production and consumption, as well as the events and circumstances which brought about its contemporary pervasiveness and symbolic power History The root of the desire to become more acquainted with the food we consume very well may spring from the Green Food movement, which asks consumers to examine the food system, the source of their food, and the price of a relatively limitless diet It must be stated, as well, that the Green Food movement is still a movement accessible only to individuals who have the funds to purchase produce designated 'green' or 'organic,' and the access to these goods to begin with. This movement is fundamentall y problematic in that it asks consumers to change their spending habits in order to change the system. This sort of bottom up approach is relatively useless in a system so large, old, and flawed. I believe this frustration is evident in my artwork, and it troubles the innocent fetishization of candy colored objects and desirable gloss. This frustration becomes evident to the viewer when confronted with my artwork because most of my work is made from candy, it represents an attraction repulsion relationship. While the candy I've created could, feasibly, be consumed by the viewer, the fact that the objects I've made are literally melting away into a brightly colored, gelatinous stains deter the viewer from the immediate urge to consume the work. Beyond the can dy's deterioration, the stickiness of
3 the candy has attracted both dust and insects, leaving little hints of life and death for the viewer to address to their discretion. Pollan's The Botany of Desire suggests that by broadening our knowledge of our relat ionship with those things we find desirable, we gain more insight into why we desire them, and at what cost. Most of the foods we eat today have histories that span continents and centuries. This demands more thorough inquiry in order to better understand our problematic relationship with the food we desire. Sidney Mintz's Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History represents a new trend of social histories of commonplace foods. Mintz endows sugar with tremendous political, social, and econo mic influence. Mintz's concern that "...once one attempts to put consumption together with production, to fit colony and metropolis, there is a tendency for one or the other the "hub" or the "outer rim" to slip out of focus" represents a critique of othe r histories (Mintz 1985, xvii). To counter this, Mintz offers readers a variety of perspectives through which they might better understand the impact of sugar's westward migration. Mintz's reluctance to assign sugar any direct, causal role in world history suggests that he is attempting to emphasize the different manifestations of human power that gave sugar the symbolic and real power it has today. I utilize Mintz's broad approach in order to address the variety of ways in which we create meaning for the food we eat. Sugar has become a staple, if not a necessity in the Western diet. The desire for sugar fueled the Atlantic slave trade, displaced and murdered millions, drains our supply of fresh water (generally replacing it with lead based preservatives), and exhausts both land and labor. In order to understand the environmental and social cost of this product it
4 is necessary to understand its rise as a pervasive commercial product. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's website, the Un ited States is the largest importer, producer, and consumer of sugar and other sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup. The Dominican Republic, Brazil, and the Philippines import the most raw sugar to the United States at 17, 14, and 13 percent respec tively, while, generally, the process of refining raw sugar occurs within the United States (USDA 2009). "Roughly 45 percent of American households use saccharin (Sweet'N Low¨), aspartame (NutraSweet¨/Equa¨) or sucralose (Splenda¨) on a regular basis. From 1991 to 2007, the number of those consumers grew from 101 to 194 million" (de la Pea 2010). However, such conspicuous consumption of sugar and artificial sweeteners is a relatively modern phenomenon; humans lived for centuries before sugar was conceived as an absolutely necessary item on the western table. Researchers of sugar have duly noted that sugar was being grown as a commercial crop as early as the 8 th century A.D. on the southern littoral of the Mediterranean Sea (Counihan 1997). Sydney Mintz su ggests that Persia and India, "...regions that had known sugar making for the longest time," were the regions that invented the processes for extracting juice from sugar cane and refining it into sugar (Mintz 1985, 24). With the Moorish westward expansion in the first century "...the Arabs brought with them sugar, the product and the technology of its production; sugar, we are told, followed the Koran" (Mintz 1985, 25). It is important that this knowledge was transferred from one culture to another because the process of growing sugar cane and producing refined sugar was incredibly labor intensive, dangerous, and complex. The environmental necessities for growing sugar cane are relatively meager a tropical environment with good soil and a
5 whole lot of water however, without technical knowledge in irrigation, water conservation, or the modes of producing refined sugar, attempts to establish this crop are doomed to failure. According to Mintz, it was the Crusades that truly familiarized Europe with sugar. The technical skill for cultivating and producing sugar was acquired by Crusaders who installed themselves as supervisors of sugar cane crops in the different places they conquered, taking back that knowledge to plantations established thereafter in Sicily, S pain, and Morocco. However, it was the sugar production in the Caribbean slave plantations that gave rise to sugar as the ubiquitous product we consume today. Sugar represents almost no nutritional value to humans, with artificial sweeteners representing absolutely none, so it seems bizarre that the desire for sweetness is so ensnared in the food Westerners consume. Evolutionarily, many scholars agree that our desire for sugar stems from its sweetness acting as a signal for edibility; the sweeter the taste the riper the fruit. Donald Symons relates this evolutionary desire with our modern, sugar saturated diet by asserting that "...the selective pressures of times past are most strikingly revealed by the artificial, supernormal stimulus of refined sugar, d espite the evidence that eating refined sugar is maladaptive" (Symons 1979). It is useful to note that Mintz's Sweetness and Power references nutritionist along with historians. Mintz cites "researchers working with infants in the United States. ." who ". have concluded that there is a built in human liking for sweet tastes. ." (Mintz 1985, 14). He also cites the work of evolution scholars, who suggest that human liking for sweetness ". arose because for millions of years a sweet taste served t o indicate edibility to the tasting organism" (Mintz 1985, 15). While this offers some insight into sugar's popularity, Mintz states that ". the widely variant sugar eating habits of contemporary populations show
6 that no ancestral predisposition within the species can adequately explain what are in fact culturally conventionalized norms, not biological imperatives" (Mintz, 1985, 15). This distinction is important, because he refuses to argue that these biological imperatives were the driving force in di sseminating the production and consumption of sugar to its modern state. Processes The initial goal for this project involved creating objects with a 'candy aesthetic.' Candy is generally bite sized, geometric, colorful, and smooth. While candy is usual ly associated with youth, innocence, childhood, and rewards, it can take on a fetishistic role in adult contexts. I utilize candy's production styles and techniques as a template for communicating desire for sugar. Because candy is generally created in uni form, geometric, colorful pieces, practically identical to one another, I utilized processes that result in identical output. For this reason I used both printmaking and moldmaking techniques, which are generally labor intensive, which can produce countles s replicas from one single mold or plate. This necessitates referencing both the mechanized mode of producing sugar, as well as the refined, colorful, and sometimes erotic final product. By citing both the polished final product and the historically manipu lative modes of production, this project's 'candy aesthetic' produces an attraction repulsion dynamic that problematises the otherwise simple desire for sweetness. The manual process of eating candy lends itself to more sensuality than other foods in th e Western diet. Candy is generally conveyed to the mouth by way of your fingers, adding the tactile experience of melting chocolate, slick candy coating, sticky
7 sugary glazes, or a burst of gooey filling exploding in one's mouth. These tactile qualities le nd themselves to the sexualization that candy usually receives in the adult world. I am interested in bridging the distinct innocence of candy for the young, and the sensual qualities it acquires for adults in my visual aesthetic. As I worked, I discovere d that water kept reappearing within this idealized, candy colored world, interrupting the simple desire for sweetness and pleasure with the notion of colossal waste, consumption, and actual, biological necessity. Juxtaposing water's necessity to life on e arth and the superfluous desire for sugar and sweetness leads one to question just how much we're willing to sacrifice for our base desires. The process of growing sugar cane requires tremendous amounts of water, sapping one vital source for life with a re latively useless commodity. Sugar cane grown in what used to be the Everglades has re routed the traditional water flow, disturbing the natural ecosystem, the aquifers, and the marshes and swamps surrounding this crop. Also, I examine the Green food move ment's desire to create sustainable, organic, locally run agriculture through their use of farmer's markets and fresh produce stands. My aesthetic draws from the quasi rustic, self sufficient, homegrown appearance that most of these organic markets offer t heir customers. By using sun bleached wood, candy colored paint chipping or worn away, I invoke images of simpler living; a romanticized, pastoral notion of sustainability and consumption.
8 Influences While food is often used as metaphor or symbol, th ere aren't many American artists invested in interrogating the histories embedded in the food we eat. However, desire appears as a subject ad nauseam in postmodern art, and often questions those things which we find the most desirable. According to Sturken and Cartwright "... in a consumer society there are great social and physical distances between the manufacture of goods and their purchase" (Cartwright and Sturken, 267). This distance is hidden by grocery chains, which provide nearly every product the a verage household could possibly desire. The hidden distance between first world consumers and third world production, orchestrated by multinational companies like Coca Cola¨, allows for these large companies to take advantage of the relaxed standards of co untries outside the sphere of American concern. Janine Antoni uses chocolate as a symbol of desire; specifically, feminine desire. Antoni's use of chocolate in her pieces suggests a female identity entwined with the notions of sweetness, desire, consumpt ion, and the self. Antoni's work deals with bodily act of desire, frequently using her own body and unexpected materials as a means of producing her pieces. Antoni's 2001 exhibition at the Aldrich Museum, "The Girl Made of Butter," utilizes a variety of di fferent, unusual materials and processes. Antoni is well known for creating casts of her own body in materials such as chocolate, soap, and, in this exhibition, raw hide. Saddle (fig 1), produced in 2001, is a piece made entirely out of rawhide, draped ove r the prostrate figure of the artist. The image of a body being entirely encased and captured in leather represents a reappropriation of the female body as an object, while the draped leather suggests the objectified body's futile resistance and utter
9 help lessness. Antoni suggests that... ". to be veiled with the cow's skin is to be shrouded in death. On the one hand, this sculpture equates my skin with the cow's, but on the other hand, it is reminiscent of the womb and being surrounded by the body of the mother. To be on all fours and hide under the skin is to acknowledge the animal in me just as I do my own death. Ultimately, you are faced with a kind of absence." (Princenthal, 126) Antoni's veiled, shrouded body influenced my artwork. Antoni's ca sting of the body suggested the body's absence, and it was this absence that I utilize in my piece Part II (fig 2). However, the meaning changes with the substitution of flesh with candy. While I cite the body and, therefore, the implicit absence of the bo dy, in my figural pieces, the melting sugar suggests more contorted, deformed bodies, with missing digits, contorted fingers, and even missing hands altogether. I reproduce Antoni's Saddle in Part II, but I choose to segment the body, referencing only con torted hands, whose form continues to degrade as it melts in the sun day by day. Rather than draw upon the relationship with woman and nature, Part II represents a curing of the body's relationship with alimentation. Antoni's style is particularly influent ial in the her use of her own form to suggest the artist's presence, as well as the presence and necessity of the audience. Rather than using my own body to cast the hands in Part II I draw from a variety of models in order to suggest a broader community being inundated and frozen in this crystalline substance. Antoni's work also had a role in conceptually influencing my artwork. Antoni's Gnaw (fig 3) utilizes mold making techniques and chocolate as symbols of desire. Gnaw, installed at the MOMA, consist s of a six hundred pound block of lard, mirrored by a six hundred pound block of chocolate. Both blocks have been gnawed away by the
10 artist, whose presence is invoked by the lingering bite marks on both materials. The material which has been gnawed away wa s then used to mold lipstick and chocolate boxes, which represent the second half of the installation. This work invokes the primal desire for these goods, as well as a gender specific utilization of both chocolate and lard. Antoni's use of chocolate as a symbol for feminine desire troubles the simplistic notion that women inherently crave chocolate, or that this craving represents an innocent relationship with alimentation. Instead, the raw tracks of teeth left in the chocolate suggest a more violent desir e that, because of the sheer quantity of chocolate, cannot be overcome or consumed, but perpetuates itself with rituals of desire, reflected with the chocolate boxes and lipsticks. This ritualized consumption, accented by the raw desire to consume, informe d this project's use of consumable materials like sugar, napkins, diamonds, and silver. Arthur Ganson's mechanical sculptures influenced this project's use of automata. While Arthur Ganson is best known for his kinetic sculptures, which tend to emphasize the mechanics of each machine, his work also suggests the human presence behind each work. Ganson's Machine with Grease (fig 4) is a machine with its gears, chain, and piping exposed to the viewer. A vertical pipe rocks back and forth, perpetually spoutin g off a viscous oil that soaks the rest of its gears. The repetitive, self involved nature of this piece made mechanical sculptures appear to be the perfect mode for expressing the the mechanization of contemporary food production and consumption. Ganson's work glorifies the mechanical movement; their exposed gears and motors referencing industry, modernity, and the technology that sustains contemporary societies. While Ganson's machines encourage the viewer to project human emotions and motives onto them, they
11 remain cold, hard, and distant, completely contained to their designated cycles. Machine with Grease 's designated cycle is devoted to a masturbatory ritual of dousing itself in grease. It is this sort of glutinous excess and waste that I draw upon in my work. The defined, apparently endless repetition of Ganson's kinetic sculpture also influenced my work, representing the hidden mechanization of food production and consumption. This endless, inherent mechanization conceptually appeals to this project's desire to create an attraction repulsion relationship with the viewer. By visually combining the suggestion of mechanized foodways with their final product, the viewer is confronted with an abbreviated history of each product. I reference this mechanical mode of production in Part I (fig 5), an automata piece that produces a broken, clanking noise when the crank is turned. Perched on top of the metal box housing the mechanical gears of the piece is an anatomically correct heart cast entirely in blue and re d candy. The broken heart beat produced by turning the crank essentially gives life to the candy heart, suggesting some interaction between the viewer or consumer and the product. This relationship is one characterized by desire for the candy heart and rep ulsion, based on the broken, eery noises produced by actually interacting with the candy. Conceptually, my work was influenced by Luis Camnitzer and Cildo Meireles. While there are many artists invested in exploring the ways in which history is created an d preserved, these two artists are interested in rewriting histories in an attempt to displace the viewer, to inspire a "...reorganization of the viewer's understanding of the subject at hand" (Barnitz 1992, 15). In their 1992 exhibition at the Archer M. H untington Art Gallery in Austin, Encounters / Displacements Jacqueline Barnitz's essay on the nature of the show suggests that the artists, in creating a 'cultural matrix' of objects, create
12 a new narrative, and are thereby constantly "...testing... the vie wer's perception as a way of calling into question the function of the gaze as a form of conquest or domination" (Barnitz 1992, 15). Barnitz suggests that the viewer, in making sense of the objects he or she sees, is attempting to produce a more personal m eaning and thereby reappropriating or dominating that meaning for themselves. Cildo Meireles is one of Brazil's foremost artists, creating conceptual, interactive, political art. In Encounters/Displacements Meireles reclaims objects of power; currency, re ligion, and consumption. With each, the artist alters familiar objects in order to rewrite the history of each. In Meireles' 1987 Misso/Misses ( How to Build Cathedrals ) (fig 6), the viewer is confronted with an illuminated chamber, shrouded by black curt ains reminiscent of the somber cloths hanging in churches. On the ground, 6,000 gold coins reflect the dim illumination, making the room appear to glow with what may be heavenly light. On the ceiling, 2,000 human like bones hang, mirroring the illuminated coins, shining dully with that reflected light. Bridging the two at the center of the chamber is a column of communion wafers, their off white color reflecting the bones, their shape reflecting the coins. Meireles' installation piece is a direct reference to the Jesuit missions that invaded and depopulated large portions of the native populations in South America. However, Meireles utilizes well known symbols in order to offer the viewer an alternative narrative of that history. Meireles' history is one of dogma, wealth, and genocide. Meireles also confronts contemporary symbols of power with his Inseres em Circuitos Ideolgicos (Insertions in Ideological Circuits) (1970) (fig 7) series. Coca Cola is a series of glass Coke bottles reprinted with subversi ve messages. Coca Cola calls to
13 mind a 'message in a bottle,' suggesting the bottle's long travel from production to consumption. Meireles' messages are political: "Yankee Go Home" is only one example of the messages printed on glass bottles, which were th en returned to the factory and sent back out for circulation. Because the white text is almost unreadable when the glass bottle is empty, presumably, the message will only be identified once it has been purchased again. This reappropriation of a mass marke ted consumer good influenced this project in that he is utilizing a well known symbol of power in order to produce a new message and a new narrative for that product; rather than an anonymous consumer good, the bottles now narrate and define a certain amou nt of distance between consumption and production, as well as the dissatisfaction of the producers of a product with significant symbolic value to American audiences. Like Meireles, Luis Camnitzer utilizes the gallery as a space for defining power, histo ry, and the role that the art world inherently plays in defining these histories. Camnitzer, also shown in Encounters/Displacements is an eclectic artist invested in "...political repression to philosophical questions about time, memory, the nature and va lidity of art, the identity of the artist, and the role of the spectator" (Barnitz 1992, 45). Camnitzer's Leftovers (1970) (fig 8) represents the exchange of goods and services between the First and Third worlds. The installation consists of 80 stacked, wo oden boxes, wrapped in what appears to be bloodstained gauze. Each box is stenciled with the word 'leftovers'. Camnitzer's Leftovers was produced after Uruguay's president, Jorge Pacheco Areco declared martial law in response to workers protesting their de leterious working conditions. The violence and abuse of governmental power that followed makes Leftover's faux blood symbolic of the human lives that are sacrificed in the name of
14 cheap labor, purchased by distant countries in the name of cheap produce. Th ese wooden boxes wrapped in gauze suggest commerce, mobility, distance, and the anonymity of the workers who produced them, despite being smeared with the 'blood' of their dissent. Camnitzer's Los San Patricios (1992) (fig 9, fig 10) is another installat ion from the artist attempting "...not to represent but rather to present history" (Herkenhoff 1992, 55). Camnitzer states that "...the narration of history could become an expressive and passionate art..." suggesting the transparency of history's alleged objectivity. Los San Patricios is a serious of pieces that line the walls in a circular room, with one center piece. Camnitzer's use of his own subjective experience within Los San Patricios utilizes "an archaeology of the present from pop to kitsch, tour istic souvenirs. ." creating a personal history which is markedly different from the histories the viewer may find in text books, newspapers, or journals. Camnitzer embraces the troubling subjectivity of historical records and takes advantage of how even ts and peoples become documented and regarded as 'important.' This allows the artist to acknowledge individual experience, while suggesting a broader social and political message. Camnitzer's work influenced this project's ability to pick and choose which elements of the history of sugar were important. Both Camnitzer and Meireles' work inspired this project's use of contemporary symbols in order to create a history that has meaning to contemporary audiences, while, at once, recalling the images and events of centuries past.
15 Artwork Automata This project began with a tremendous amount of influence from Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, as well as Sidney Mintz's Sweetness and Desire. In order to understand humans' relationship to the food we eat, we must first understand the history of that good, and how symbolism grew from that history. The history of sugar as we know it is one of mechanical innovation, which demonstrates the power humans have over the environment. It was necessary, therefore, to pr oduce work that displays elements of this mechanization of the environment and society. With this in mind, I began working on my Molasses Fountain (fig 11). The fountain is a small wooden box situated on top of a slender white pedestal. The middle of the b ox is left open so that the viewer has to view the action of the fountain from that two inch slot specifically. Because of its height, the viewer is forced to bend and get close to the fountain in order to see its inner workings. Sticky, sweet, glistening syrup is pumped from a tin trough and up over several different levels of plastic which disperse the syrup's drips, creating many different layers of dripping, sticky syrup. Because the syrup is constantly circulating and because the base of the trough is heated, the entire gallery fills with the smell of syrup, which immediately suggests the presence of pancakes or waffles or, at the very least, breakfast time to the viewer. This immediate, physical response from the viewer in response to automatic, mecha nical repetition draws a parallel between the desire for sweetness and its modes of production. The syrup, while immediately attractive and desirable to the viewer in both smell and consistency, is set apart from the viewer in that it is unattainable in it s box. The fact that the object of desire is removed from the viewer, and therefore unattainable,
16 rendering the viewer's desire impotent, suggests the impotence of consumer desire as a whole. Sugar was not originally a product made for the masses, but an i mported object wrought from environmental degradation and human exploitation, produced only by dangerous and labor intensive technology. Molasses Fountain does not relate all of these details to the viewer, but the abrupt disconnect between immediate, unre asonable desire and acquiring that desire suggests a similar disconnect for contemporary society's unquenchable desire for sugar. In order to reference the mechanical, industrial process through which sugar is produced, I found it necessary to cite the hu man body as part and parcel to this process. Bodies have and always were a necessary element in sugar production. In order to reference both the bodies demanding the production of sugar as well as the bodies caught up in the production of it I produced Par t I Part I is a diminutive automata piece made up of a small metal box with a wooden crank on the side. Sitting atop the box is an anatomically correct candy mold of a human heart. Because the box is so small, the heart balances it out despite being far m ore fragile and brightly colored. The viewer is encouraged to interact with the piece by turning the crank, which produces the sounds of metal thrumming against metal, along with the rattle of metal against metal. Hearts are generally understood to be plai n symbols of desire. However, when one substitutes the simplified symbol of a heart with its anatomical inspiration it tends to suggest the body, or the absence of a body. Because the crank mechanism produces a constant, repetitive beating when turned, it draws upon a mechanized body. The heart, situated on top of a silver rod, appears struck or caught. And, with the heartbeat like noises the box produces, the stagnant heart mold appears that much more petrified and still. Part I references both
17 the body th at desires, as well as the body that is sacrificed for that desire. Because hearts so frequently reference desire and temptation, it was a useful part of the body to isolate in order to suggest the whole or the missing body. However, because it is an autom ata piece, the viewer is encouraged to interact with this body in a way that gives it some manner of life. The viewer's desire to explore and understand provides the piece with the mechanical movement to suggest life, even if that life is a shallow replica of actual biological life. Part I offers the viewer manifold ways through which to understand their relationship with sugar symbolic and interactive, as well as relatively fruitless and stagnant. While hearts are frequently used as symbols of desire, Part I utilizes its symbolic power as a lure through which to gain the trust and interest of the viewer in order to subvert that trust and interest, and thereby question that initial desire. Prints The fulfillment of this project's goals necessitate referenc e to the broad, historical narrative to which the American public, by and large, is generally ignorant. The desire to establish a more comprehensive understanding of the food we consume intrigued me because, while people certainly show an interest in the s ource of their food, we are nearly as ill informed about its production and source as the British were of their sugar, sprung from slave plantations in the Caribbean. In order to question the relational knowledge of the food we consume today, I produced 18 68 (fig 12). These napkins are arranged in a grid that span an entire wall of the gallery. The image printed on the napkins is a cropped section of Cuba's southern coast. However, without any intimate knowledge of Cuba's geography this point is lost on the viewer. The significance in this anonymous coastline is
18 in its color. Land is defined by thick, dark browns to apply the print to the napkins and, once dry, carefully folded the napkin inside out, so that the printed color appeared only as much as the thi n paper napkins allowed to bleed through. This results in an uneven, spotty span of faded color, not unlike a faded ring of coffee stained into a napkin, or the faux blood of Camnitzer's Leftovers The graph created by the napkins and the geological bounda ries of a country draw parallels to mapmakers and sailors, while the delicate napkins and the color and tone of the image suggest a much more domestic setting. I chose Cuba specifically for several reasons -Cuba is generally recognizable to most American' s because of its proximity to the United States. Cuba also represents one of the last locations to use enslaved labor in order to produce sugar. The only reference offered to the viewer that the anonymous printed landform is, in fact, Cuba, is the title, w hich dates the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. However, there is no overt reference to any of this in the piece itself, leaving the viewer to wonder what relationship the land has to food. Potentially, this provokes inquiry into the relationship with co nsumption and the land, and what that means for the anonymous, distant lands from which it is harvested. To contrast this large scale, anonymous coast, I produced Sugar (fig 13). With these prints, I traced the outlines of countries significant to the pro duction of sugar in the Caribbean. These small scale prints make these countries bite sized, consumable bits of information. While the viewer may not be able to readily identify each country, the proximity of these countries to the United States, as well a s their necessity to fulfilling American desire demands that the viewer question these countries on the periphery of their interest. By contrasting the large and small prints, I offer the viewer a variety of information related to alimentation. The confusi on provoked by the anonymity of these
19 countries ought to instigate a revision of our relationship with our food, as well as with the modes of production necessary to producing the food we eat. Molds Casting objects in order to produce multiples is, actua lly, very similar to printmaking. The ability to endlessly reproduce one image or form allows both printmakers and sculptors the ability to communicate to broader audiences. Both processes, however, are labor intensive. This process contrasts the final pro ducts, which appear relatively effortless and uniform. The dynamic between labor intensive process and seamless final product seemed relevant to my desire to convey the physical and psychological distance between our foodways and their products. The unifor m end result of mold making also references the burgeoning uniformity of food supplied by any grocery store in America. The relationship between process and end result invites the viewer to reconsider their relationship with alimentation. Early in my proc ess I was caught up with the notion of using sugar as a primary material in my work for its physical properties: it can be melted into translucent, sticky, ephemeral forms, it is capable of being stretched, blown, and molded into almost any shape. Its colo r ranges from completely clear to dark, golden brown, and, with food coloring, can achieve almost any combination of colors desired. I began producing diamond molds in order to create a dialogue between our desire for one relatively useless product and ano ther relatively useless product. Both sugar and diamonds represent objects that, at one point, served as status indicators. Because both objects were originally imported at great cost to the consumer and producer, these objects signified the ability of
20 the consumer to waste great swaths of money on objects that presented no real use or function to biological life. Rather, these objects actively destroyed the lives of those people who were unfortunate enough to be in the diamond mines or on the sugar plantat ions. The color of both diamonds and sugar determines the quality of each product, suggesting yet another illegitimate means of assigning worth to the human and environmental devastation necessary to harvesting each product. Each product demanded labor int ensive work, generally by enslaved or indentured populations in other countries. Ice (fig 14), is a slick display case, where fist sized translucent, candy diamonds are lined up, illuminated from below by light hidden beneath the display. The array of colo rs and shades within the display suggests a progression from raw to refined. By providing a variety of colors within the illuminated display, the viewer is asked to assess the value of what they are viewing. Because the diamonds, in form, are identical, th e only determining factor of value is in their color. By demanding that the viewer make the distinction between better and worse qualities in both sugar and diamonds it is forcing them to acknowledge the ways in which this distinction is typically out of t heir control. The slick, illuminated display covers up any turmoil or labor necessary to reworking these objects into perfect symbols of desire. The over sized diamonds blow up the desire for each of these products and ask the audience to question the true value of these objects, and the human and environmental cost of their production. Another series of candied pieces, 1845 (fig 15), offers the viewer an alternative to the normative ways consumers have become used to consuming food. Different shapes of ap ples, entirely molded from candy, in a variety of colors, line a light table completely covered with a picnic blanket. The picnic blanket has been cut so that the light table
21 illuminates the apples from below, highlighting their different consistencies, co lors, and shapes. The sheer variety of apples suggests a variety of options, which contrasts to the five or so variety of apples available at your average grocery store. The history of apples, like sugar, represents a long and involved narrative that cross es both continents and oceans. The apple has been a symbol of desire for centuries. While the original fruit that tempted Eve probably wasn't an apple, its influence on art and culture has erased that original fruit from our collective memories. The apple, therefore, is understood to be a symbol of desire and temptation. In 1845, the illuminated apples line the table in a way that suggests a progression from better to worse, but further investigation into each individual apple suggests that there is no real difference or progress to be seen between the colorful, melted forms of what might be an apple and the colorful, melting forms of what contemporary consumers can readily recognize as supermarket variety apple. The bright, exaggerated colors reference the cropping of flavor into singular candy specific flavors like banana, wild cherry, blue raspberry, lemon lime and so on. The disfiguration of the apples themselves also suggest a warped sense of desire, or else a very limited sense of what is desirable. Whi le the apples' forms are nearly compromised by the sugar's ephemeral qualities, this process of wearing away what is immediately recognizable recalls the piece's title. The title settles the piece itself into a historical lens by suggesting a time period b y which one ought to address the piece. 1845 was the year of Johnny Appleseed's death, and, while I do not expect the viewer to understand this from viewing 1845 it does suggest that the viewer take into account the ways of eating and the food that was ea ten before contemporary industrialized food production became the norm for Western societies.
22 My concerns with environmental degradation caused by the sugar trade found focus in Untitled (ice) (fig 16). The ice lollipops are installed in a long, wooden t rough. The trough acts as a planter for these ice lollipops, referencing organic origins for inorganic forms. In place of soil, I filled the trough with raw sugar, a substance both sand like and crystalline. Each lollipop is supported by a bamboo skewer, w hich is splintered in the center of the ice lollipop. While the glossy, translucent surface makes these objects particularly desirable, the splintered dowel at the center promises a very painful experience should one attempt to consume then. As the ice mel ts from the lollipop, the sugar it is planted in slowly goes darker, radiating a glistening circle of wet sugar around the base to mirror and shadow its original form. Molded ice resembles molded sugar both are translucent, ephemeral, slick, and reflective However, in this instance, ice stands apart from the candy, in that the ice lollipops life is no more than a half hour at most. The temporality of this piece references the waste of ultimately necessary resources in the name of unnecessary commodities. B ecause the production of sugarcane necessitates an enormous amount of fresh water, we are literally exchanging a necessary resource for a relatively useless product. In order to more firmly demonstrate the exchange being made between sugar and water the ic e lollipops are mirrored by another planter identical planter growing candy lollipops. Because the ice lollipops melt so rapidly they must be replaced every other day, whereas, candy lollipops are readily available at just about any convenience store. The subtle threat of the splintered wood within the ice lollipops suggest a similar danger within the candy. Where the candy pieces may, over time, begin to degrade and even melt, the ice work's life line is extremely temporary. The fact that a viewer can stan d and watch the lollipops melting
23 away also adds the element of time to my work. It suggests that this project is not a cross section of some frozen moment in time or even several isolated moments, but a history that continues with each passing moment. The contrast between such a delicate, temporal material and the hard, nearly imperishable quality of the candy emphasizes human desire for one product over another. We may need water, but we want sugar. Because the history of sugar is one of manipulation and destruction in the name of bodily desire, it was necessary to reference the human body in my work. Casting the human form can support a variety of meaning, depending upon composition, materials, and process. Janine Antoni's Saddle utilizes the artist's bo dy covered in leather in order to convey the feeling of emptiness, confinement, and a connection to the natural world. Part II a piece cast entirely out of sugar, references Antoni's Saddle in its use of the cast human form to suggest an absent human pres ence. Part II is an installation mounted on the wall about eight feet off the ground. Three pairs of hands extending from the wall by wooden dowels. These objects, cast in a variety of sugars, were molded from different models. The series of hands are cont orted and deformed with hot sugar poured down upon, dripping from their fingers, leaving the hands with missing fingers or, sometimes, missing hands. The empty hands seem to demand to be filled, despite their obvious inability to grasp or hold onto anythin g with their fingers contorted by the hot candy. The hands, illuminated by sunlight, continue to melt and grow deformed as days go by, suggesting the ephemeral quality of the material and the bodies being sacrificed in the name of cheap sugar. It is this p iece in particular that demands the viewer connect the consumption of desirable food with the bodies and lives that are destroyed in the process of producing cheap, pervasive sweetness.
24 Conclusion I hope that my work inspires the viewer to consider the co mplex, systematic, historical contexts upon which they sup the next time they sit down to eat. Sugar's history does offer consumers an understanding of the kind of power that the sugar industry have over the environment and human lives. By exploring the re lationship between sugar's troubled history and its contemporary necessity in our diet I aim to demonstrate the power that commercial food producers actually have, and the relative strangle hold they have on Western wallets and stomachs. We are all implici t in the environmental and social devastation created by this crop. It is in the critique of our contemporary, apparently uncomplicated relationship with our foodways that I hope to contribute to the dialogue of alimentation, power, and desire, while addin g more ambiguity to humankind's relationship to sugar.
2 5 Plates fig 1. Janine Antoni, Saddle 2001. Wans Foundation
27 fig 3. Janine Antoni, Gnaw (detail) 1992.
28 fig 4. Arthur Ganson, Machine with Grease 1992
29 fig 5. Brittney Champagne, Part I. 2011.
30 fig 6. Cildo Meireles, Misso/Misses ( How to Build Cathedrals ) (detail). 1987.
32 fig 8. Luis Camnitzer, Leftovers. 1992.
33 fig 9. Luis Camnitzer, Los San Patricios (detail) 1992. fig 10. Luis Camnitzer, Los San Patricios (detail) 1992.
34 fig 11. Brittney Champagne, Molasses Fountain 2011.
36 fig 13. Brittney Champagne, Sugar. 2011.
37 fig 14. Brittney Champagne, Ice. 2011.
38 fig 15. Brittney Champagne, 1845. 2011.
39 fig 16. Brittney Champag ne, untitled (ice). 2011.
40 BIBLIOGRAPHY Abbott, Elizabeth. Sugar: A Bittersweet History. Canada: Penguin Press, 2008. Buskirk, Martha. The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2003. Cartwright, Lisa and Marita Sturken. Prac tices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Counihan, Carole and Esterik Penny Van. Food and Culture : a Reader. New York: Routledge, 2008. De la Pea, Carolyn. "Sweet Nothings." GenderWatch. 20 (2010) : 46 47. Flaherty, Julie. "Technical Art That Exalts Ideas." New York Times May 7, 1997. Gomez, Edward M. "ART/ARCHITECTURE." New York Times Dec 8, 2002. Johnson, Ken. "Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen." New York Times May 14, 2004. Johnson, Ken. "Claes Oldenburg." New York Times Dec 2, 2005. Lajer Bucharth, Ewa. "Antoni's Difference." differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. 10 (1998): 129 171. Matamoros, Corina and Noel Smith. Homing Devices Tampa: USF Contemporary Art Muse um, 2007. Mintz, Sidney Wilfred. Sweetness and Power: the Place of Sugar in Modern History New York, NY: Viking, 1985. Princenthal, Nancy. "Janine Antoni: Mother's Milk." Art in America, 89 (2001): 124 9. Ramirez, Carmen Mari. Encounters/Displacements : Luis Camnitzer, Alfredo Jarr, Cildo Meireles Austin: Friendship Press, 1992. Robertson, Jean, and Craig McDaniel. Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980 New York: Oxford UP, 2010. Rush, Michael. New Media in Art London: Thames & Hudson 2005.
41 Staniszewski, Mary Anne. Believing Is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art New York: Penguin, 1995. Stasukevich, Iain. "Short Takes: Crossing Over in Viola's Ocean Without a Shore American Cinematographer, 89 (2008.). 10 14 Taylor, Brandon. Contemporary Art: Art since 1970 Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. Toledo Museum of Art, comp. Good Taste; Representations of Food Toledo: The Toledo Museum of Art, 1973. Woloson, Wendy. Refined Tastes: Sugar, Confectionery, and C onsumers in Nineteenth Century America. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2002.