Thursday, September 18, 2008

10 Day Project: Day 4

I saved the kernels and some of the husk from yesterday, so when I went to work today I thought I would only use these leftovers. It’s been kind of a long day, so instead of starting with a grand plan for a project, I decided to mash up the kernels into a paste. With a mortar and pestle, I mashed the kernels for a while, which was intensely satisfying. The corn made squishy noises and sloshed around. I did stop before I had a good paste because my arm was getting tired and I was losing interest. I realize people used to have no choice but to do this by hand, so I appreciate that I no longer have to do this kind of labor for basic ingredients.

Mashing the corn made me think of my choice of food for art. I had saved the leftover corn so as not to be wasteful, something I might not have done with small scraps of paper. I didn’t want to be wasteful because I was using food, and so many people don’t even get this much food in a day. Corn, especially, has become politicized because of the push for ethanol as an alternative fuel. I don’t know how I feel about using food in art, but I was definitely thinking about this as I worked the kernels into a gooey paste.

After I had a good consistency, I wrapped the corn in plastic to keep it from going everywhere. I then had the idea to re-wrap the corn in the husks, playing off of the idea of the husk as a container for the fresh corn and now a container again for the manipulated corn. The outcome reminded me of two things: tamales, which I’ve never eaten but look delicious, and a baby wrapped in a blanket, maybe reminiscent of images I’ve seen of baby Moses.

The process of mashing is satisfying to my sense of aggression, perhaps working stress out through the repetitive grinding of the kernels. Re-wrapping is an almost intimate, protective act, something that must be done with care in order to keep the contents in tact. It’s interesting that a project that began with a violent act (mashing) ended with a caring act (wrapping).

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