Frieze Magazine | Archive | The Feast against Nature

http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/the_feast_against_nature


“Ostensibly a re-enactment of the infamous ‘Black Dinner’ described by Joris-Karl Huysmans in his decadent classic A rebours (Against Nature, 1884), The Feast against Nature was the brainchild of English artist Emily Wardill and featured a dozen invited guests clad in black, dining on an eight-course pitch-dark meal while an organ piped out appropriately funereal background music.”

Fans of the madman Des Esseintes, you simply have to read this:

“The dinner’s first course – dollops of paddlefish roe, black olive tapenade and aubergine bottarga on crisp pumpernickel – was barely finished when artist Rita Ackermann started muttering under her breath and making rude comments. Tanisha Thompson, who was in the middle of an impassioned if somewhat digressive speech regarding power, slavery and anal sex, persisted despite the interruptions.”

Sounds like a delightful, mad evening, especially if they finished up with burnt dark chocolate-and-pepper sorbet.

I’m pretty sure liberal use of black sambuca was involved.

However, according to the writer of this review:

“For all its investment in theatricality and artifice, true decadence cannot be manufactured. Transcending mere attitude, it is first and foremost an intellectual raison d’Ítre, privileging the senses rather than the body. (Consider Baudelaire, who loved the fibrillating atmosphere of the brothel but was loath to disrobe.) Too easily confused with easygoing bohemianism or infantile Goth play-acting, it is sorely misunderstood today. Encouraging the bad behaviour of her guests – Ackermann and others had been secretly instructed to disrupt the dinner – Wardill’s idea of decadence was more indebted to Jerry Springer than Alfred Jarry.”

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