Helena Walsh

Current Work: Occupied Bodies


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Following the birth of her child, the artist extended a dinner invitation to her male friends. The placenta resulting from the birth was on the menu. The placenta is the fetus’ extension into the mother. The placenta functions as a nutrient and waste exchanger, and the term ‘placenta’ originates from the Latin word for ‘flat cake’. In everyday speech, though the placenta is generally referred to as the ‘afterbirth’. Recognizing the placenta as a space symbolic of human closeness and individuality, the work plays on the conflicting terminology that describes it as both foodstuff and bodily waste. Using the footage of this dinner event where the placenta was cooked, served and consumed, the performance links the physical experiences of the female body to political conflicts involving the occupation of one country by another. This is achieved by claiming the impregnated female body as an occupied space, invaded by an unknown alien creature, further aligning the placenta to colonial walls. However, this work also pays tribute to the loving bond the artist developed with her child following birth. The performance places the boundless strength and open generosity born through this bond in opposition to the tragedy born from the fear of human difference.