A Hungry Artist

-A modern take on a classic story by Franz Kafka-


DURING THE LAST DECADE the interest in artistic feeding has markedly diminished. In the early days of caloric performance, bingers attracted quite a crowd. They used to be able to cover their food bill and even pay down some of their student loan debt.

We live in a different world now. At one time all of Brooklyn took a lively interest in the hungry artist; from the opening reception for her site-specific feeding pod to the gallery’s closing party, the excitement mounted; everybody wanted to see her at least once a day; there were creative types who stared through the gallery windows and into her plexiglass pod after nights of artisan rye cocktails, heightened by the light of the video art installation sharing the former manufacturing space; on fine days the feeding pod was set out onto the sidewalk and then it was the children’s special treat to bring organic, gluten-free, wheat-free food to the hungry artist; for their elders she was often just a joke that happened to be current, but the children stood open-mouthed, holding each other’s sanitized hands for greater security, marveling at her as she sat there swollen in black leggings, with her muffin top sticking out so prominently, not even on a seat but down among the energy bar wrappers and take-out containers on the ground, sometimes giving a careful nod, answering questions with a tight smile so as not to let any morsel escape, or perhaps squeezing an arm through the pod’s custom drive-thru window so that one might feel how plump it was, and then again withdrawing deep into herself, paying no attention to anyone or anything, not even to the all-important ringing of her smartphone that was the only non-edible in her pod, but merely staring into vacancy with half open eyes, now and then using her ever-meaty forearms to wipe crumbs or grease from her lips.

Beside Europeans there were also relays of permanent watchers selected by the artist collective, usually vegans, strangely enough, and it was their task to watch the hungry artist day and night, three of them at a time, in case she should have some secret recourse to full-sugar soda. This was nothing but a formality, instituted to reassure the masses, for the initiates knew well enough that during her feed the artist would never in any circumstances, not even under forcible compulsion, reject the smallest bite of food, even processed products from box stores; the honor of her artist statement as posted on the gallery wall forbade it. Not every watcher, of course, was capable of understanding this; there were often groups of night watchers who were very lax in carrying out their duties and deliberately huddled together on the deserted street corner to smoke cigarettes, obviously intending to give the hungry artist the chance of a little respite from chewing. Much more to her taste were the watchers who sat close up to the pod, who were not content with the dim night lighting of the gallery but focused her in the full glare of the white walls, freshly painted by the gallery’s fall semester interns. The harsh track lighting did not trouble her at all, in any case she would never sleep properly, and she could always drowse a little under the spell of her food coma, whatever the light, at any hour, even when the gallery space and its floor-to-ceiling window was thronged with noisy onlookers. But her happiest moment was when the morning came and an enormous breakfast was brought to the watchers, at the gallery owner’s expense. Of course there were people who argued that this breakfast was an unfair attempt to get the watchers to eat dairy and animal products, but that was going too far, and when they were invited to take on a night’s vigil without a breakfast, merely for the sake of the cause they made themselves scarce, although they stuck stubbornly to their suspicions.

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About Anna Voisard


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Anna Voisard lives in Queens, New York with her husband, two children and no pets. No allergies, just no pets. She is working on a novel about an over-marrying woman.
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