Not on display
In I Want to Be an Insect Protein Entrepreneur 2018 a greatly enlarged photocopied reproduction of a detail from a famous Roman first-century BC fresco – the blooming garden from the Villa of Livia on the ancient Via Flaminia to the north of Rome – is adorned by a gargantuan relief ‘witchetty grub’, which was originally made for Chetwynd’s performances The Elixia App and The Cell Group at Bergen Assembly, Norway in 2016. Wrought from latex, fabric and paint, the insect curls across the surface of the work, strapped to a ladder-like sequence of protruding dowels. The fresco has featured a number of times in the artist’s performances, most prominently as the backdrop to Here She Comes 2016 (Arts Council fiftieth anniversary commission, Royal Festival Hall, London). The ancient painting, which was originally installed in an underground dining room, depicts all the flowers and fruits of the garden blooming simultaneously – as if nature’s cycles and seasons had collapsed into a dazzling singularity. This preternatural image of nature’s plenty is doubled in the turgid, fattened form of the grub – suggestive of another, earthier kind of fecundity. Chetwynd refers in the title and subject of this painting to entomophagy (insect-eating), a concept which is attracting increasing interest from sustainability experts, who foresee the use of insect life as a plentiful supply of nutrition for the world’s swelling population. The performances in Bergen evolved out of research into futurology, with The Cell Group being performed by a cast of octogenarians and referring to a range of subjects including the elderly librarians in the science-fiction film classic Soylent Green (1973) and the futuristic vision of the cult film Zardoz (1974).
The structure of the work is similar to that of Jesus and Barabbas (Odd Man Out 2011) 2018 (Tate T15103) in the juxtaposition of a flat surface with sculptural elements adhered to the picture plane. Both works reference a previous performance and combine historic imagery with reference to contemporary issues. Chetwynd was christened Alalia Chetwynd and raised as Lali Chetwynd, but has adopted a series of artistic names; from 2006 to September 2013 she worked under the name Spartacus Chetwynd, followed by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd from September 2013 to April 2018, before adopting the moniker Monster Chetwynd in April 2018.Working in film, performance and sculpture, she draws on the history of folk plays and carnival, referencing – often in an irreverent manner – critical moments in cultural history. Chetwynd often works collaboratively with a group of artists and performers; as well as performing together, they will make props, costumes and film sets, some of which are later reused in works such as I Want to Be an Insect Protein Entrepreneur.
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, Cologne 2014.
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