ELOISE FORNIELES – UNFIT FOR CONSUMPTION

My first encounter with Eloise was when she danced the dance of death. As if in a trance, for three days straight, six hours a day, she danced in a darkened room, in a puddle of fake blood, listening to her ipod, while the only sounds the audience heard were her slippery steps and Stravinsky’s enigmatic “Le Sacre du Printemps“. Three years on, and the image still haunts. It might be her good looks, or the fact that she engages her own body in activities some might call masochistic, but there is something about her work that completely mesmerizes the eye.

Her Berlin debut, Carrion, the final chapter of a dramatic trilogy, performed at the spacious Haunch of Venison, is a 72-hour performance in which Fornieles engages with themes of violence and consumption. She does not eat for the duration of the show. A dramatic scene is set. Amidst a sea of clothes, she sits in a skeleton hut, her only company - the carcass of a cow. From time to time, she undresses, and stabs the hanging meat stuffing it with messages of apology or thanks collected from the audience. Two camera men in black, circle her continuously, recording her every move. Their presence makes the audience all the more aware of their own persistent stares and society’s insatiable appetite for visual consumption, particularly in relation to the female body.

The tension levels in the space were definitely high and throughout the performance I couldn’t help but wonder how the artist feels in her vulnerable state. Hungry, naked and stared at from all sides doesn’t seem like the most inviting of situations to find yourself in. Catching up with Eloise off stage put things into a healthier perspective.


How do you feel being nude in a public space?

It depends on the context. If I am using my body in a performance then I don’t feel in anyway intimidated or embarrassed because there’s a purpose to it and I believe very strongly in what I do. If I happened to be naked for no reason I probably wouldn’t feel so at ease...


Who is more uncomfortable, you or the audience?

During ‘Carrion’ I can't recall being 'uncomfortable'. I can't speak for the audience. I would hope it provokes thought and I can imagine being uncomfortable is part of the process.


What inspired you to start working with your own body?

Working with the body enables me to understand my limits and capabilities. It’s a method of breaking down and understanding what ‘self’ is. For women it has also been a means of reclaiming the female body in art. Historically the woman’s body is often depicted as ‘nude’ and made by men for men. Using my body in performance art can give me a direct way of asking the audience to consider the female body from a female perspective. Or it can simply make the viewer more aware of the social conditioning we assume when considering the body.


For some, what you do to your body, in this case not eating for three days, is seen as self-harm, what would you say about that?

Not eating can be a form of self-harm and a violent act against the body, which is why it is so interesting and as a ‘non-violent’ act of protest. It’s very complex and has a multifarious history, which also includes spiritual fasting, eating disorders and dietary cleansing. The motivation for an individual to stop eating is pivotal. In this case it is a small form of hunger strike- a request for the public to consider the way in which they consume.


My gran is always trying to feed me. How do yours respond to your projects?

They cheer me on from the heavens!

Sadly both of my Grandmothers died before I started making performance art. My English Grandmother always encouraged me with art and spent many hours teaching me to draw and paint. She is still a major inspiration. My Argentine Grandmother died when I was very little, but I imagine they're both proud. They were both strong women and believed in their families. I made a performance about grandmothers a couple of year’s ago- they should be celebrated more often.


What do you crave most after the performance?

Sleep. I always sleep for a long time after an intense performance.


Can you share a recipe for your all time favourite comfort food?

Apple and Pear crumble.

Cut up apples and pears. Lay them in a dish. Smother them in rich dark sugar and sprinkle some cinnamon. Add a little water and let them soften in the oven. Give them a little head start before you add the crumble. For the crumble mix flour, butter, oats and sugar. I have no idea on the measurements- just do it by eye and hope for the best.

Text + Photography: Anastasia Loginova

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