extra credit Visiting Artist

Elaine Tin Nyo Visiting Artist

Elaine Tin Nyo’s  presentation in the Visiting Artist Lecture series was a story of conceptual work that turned into performance and cultural art. Beginning with a story of arriving in America on Halloween night in 1969 she gives a playful depiction of her childhood idea of America as “…getting dressed in a costume and begging”. Her work is a study of human interaction and food. I was most interested in the photographs for her early work’s documentation. The photos that she shot herself  were abstracted, surreal, and engaging through composition. My favorite photo was a dramatic black and white image of a vegetable that mimicked delicate curves of the female form.

Documentation is important in performance art which is her main interest as an artist. She focuses on the way people interact in gallery environments, the cultural aspects of food, and the act of sharing and conversing during the process. Her  connection to organic farming and the act of cultivating one’s own food is an underlying theme through most of her projects. I notice a progression in her work that involves investigating different food groups through self preparation and consuming in an intimate group setting. Rather than changing her materials or concepts she changes the type of food process that she is discovering at the time.

Although Elaine Tin Nyo  has branched out from food in a couple of projects that still included relationships and performances art, I see her work as staying in the realm of a fusion between food and performance art. I appreciated seeing images of her recent work involving drying a chunk of meat in a special wooden cupboard in her living-room. This type of food art that she is working with now is unfamiliar and curious to me. I’m not sure if I would want to try some dried meat that my friend made in her living-room, that she pulled from a wooden cupboard. I prefer my meat from a manufactured package which distances it from its source. Even though her meat practices are much cleaner and certainly more delicious than fast-food, there is something psychological about wrapped, mass produced food that I need.

Because her body of work is large, I would suggest trimming the segments down into a more of a reduced version of the components of her presentation. Although she is a comfortable public speaker, the presentation ran over, past when I was able to stay for questions to the artist. The talk began at 7pm and I had to leave at 8:30pm, but if I was able to stay my question would have been, “Have you ever considered working with food as sculpture instead of performance art?”. I would also comment on her photography and asked if she ever thought of having a show with her photography as well as performance art.

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