Barbara T. Smith, Feed Me

Barbara T. Smith, Feed Me

During an event organised by the San Francisco Museum of Conceptual Art in which various male artists performed wreckless and macho gestures like drinking beer and peeing into a metal tub, Smith sat nude in an intimate space inviting audience members one at a time to ‘feed’ her. The room contained an oriental rug-covered mattress, a sink, incense, body oils, shawls, books and music. The artist offered tea, wine and marijuana that she could be fed in exchange for ‘conversation and affection’. In the background, a taped loop played “Feed Me, Feed Me” over and over again. Smith has explained that the image she projected of herself reflected both the fantasy and the reality of femininity; by presenting herself as mother, courtesan and artist she opened up the possibility that all these identities can co-exist.

Art historian Jennie Klein describes the particulars of the performance in more detail:

Open to all possibilities and unafraid of the consequences because she had meditated earlier that day and quieted her mind and her doubts, Smith had an intensely spiritual experience. A young man and his girlfriend who wanted to enter the room together approached her. Smith refused, and the young man entered on his own. He offered to interact with Smith, extending her arms and asking her to imagine herself going on infinitely into space. Smith and the young man began moving and rocking together, attaining a transported state. The girlfriend suddenly burst into the room and said that she was so jealous she couldn’t take it any more. Smith told the young man that he had better go after his girlfriend, which he did. Smith later told Moira Roth that Feed Me occurred in a space that was not quite acting and yet not quite ‘real’ life either. This point was brought home to her by the girlfriend’s inability to distinguish between art and ‘reality’.

Artist’s website:
http://www.barbaratsmithart.com/

Further Reading:
http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/paj/v021/21.1klein.html

http://anotherrighteoustransfer.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/barbara-t-smith-dialogue-the-box-january-16-2010/

http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/barbara_t_smith/

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