To Hide Ones Face from God

Allen, Maria (2019) To Hide Ones Face from God. [Artefact]


The output is an artefact comprising a series of five photographs. The images depict the ancient French eating ritual of the Ortolan bird. This now illegal tradition consists of capturing this tiny endangered songbird which is then drowned in Armagnac brandy, plucked and cooked before being eaten in an elaborate and ritualistic dinner. The bird is eaten whole, headfirst, organs, bones and head intact and with the diner's head shrouded by a napkin, to savour the aroma and it's said, to hide one's face from God. Research process: Allen’s practice draws from her relationship with nature and how at odds it is with the societal behaviours imposed on us. Birds feature heavily in her more recent work, being the symbol of innocence, fragility and beauty; the dichotomy between nature’s purity and society’s urge to consume. Allen created a series of staged photographs that reference French and Dutch genre and still life painting. Research insights: This theatrical culinary act has transformed the bird from a symbol of innocence to an act of gluttony symbolic of mans’ fall from grace. The photographs communicate the dichotomy between shame and the urge to consume through visual metaphor. Dissemination: This output was disseminated as part of the Make Good exhibition at Leeds Arts University, September 2019 and also exhibited in “PEERS” at Vrij Paleis, Amsterdam, September 2019.

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