Il Cadavere Squisito
(The Delicious Corpse)

Texto: FA+ & Ivan Ivanissevich

Il Cadavere is a piece of work which in many ways forms successive circles. It plays on the idea of that which is temporary and that which is everlasting, and how the lines that define the two mutate and engulf each other. Within the circles lies a work which revisits the idea of the body, and how gesture and ritual are separate from each other. This time however, the work is brutally exposed to a world which is hostile in both natural and cultural terms. In this world Il Cadavere will see her demise, and this world will be the best witness to her holiness.

The idea of what type of work they would be designed for the Venice Biennial came to light when Falk and Aguerre told a friend about Lucia Lucia. Lucia Lucia had been brought about by examining myths based on human bodies that are consumed until they are just small crumbs of what they once were.

La Donna di panne (the bread lady), as she was referred to, was to be a representation of Venice, a copy of Venice, a saint, a grand lady, a relic left to her fate, left to the pigeons, left to the tourists and the citizens of Venice.

Using this as a starting point, the group gathered in the Italian artist Nicola Pelligriniís studio, in Chiaravalle a little village whose name comes from an old Benedictine cloister in the outskirts of Milan. The conception process of the sculpture was a trial in itself, and included local Italian colour.

FA+ started making the piece in the garden of Pelligriniís house. They began the process by making a cast of Ingridís body. In order to make the cast, the group had to first cover Ingrid entirely with plaster. This naturally brought the curiosity of the village residents to new heights, and they found any reason to walk by the house over and over again. When FA+ finally explained the purpose of their strange activity, everyone in the village wanted to pitch in and did so by donating their stale bread to the project.

The group ground the stale bread with eggs, water, and sugar to make a paste which they used to fill the plaster cast. They initially had planned on letting the cast dry in the sun, but soon realised that it would take several days for everything to dry. As a result, they had to saw the cast in pieces and place them in the oven to dry. The warmth of the oven made the dough stick to the plaster cast and also gave the bread a roasted hue, similar to a gingerbread biscuit. Carefully, the artists managed to remove the pieces from the cast and then sewed the pieces together again. With La Donna in pieces in the boot of the car, FA+ drove to Venice the day before the opening of the Venice Biennial.

Once they arrived at Giudecca Island they assembled La Donnaís pieces and placed her in a seated position on a chair. On the opening day they walked in a procession towards Piazza San Marco. They placed La Donna in the middle of the Piazza San Marco facing the cathedral when the church bells started ringing to signal that it was five oí clock in the afternoon.

They left her there with her calm and proud expression on her face, like a forgotten queen. They left her there so that the pigeons would use her as a part of their performances. After a while the birds started to circle her and like predators they started picking at her and eating her. Then tourists and the curious picked at her, taking pieces away as souvenirs. And so it continued, tourists and pigeons taking turns and picking at La Donna. When Falk and Aguerre and their party left La Donna and the pigeons to their fate at the Piazza San Marco.

Later that evening at Haigís, the watering hole of choice during the Biennial, everyone was talking about La Donna. They spoke of her beauty, of her sweet character, of her scent. The organisers of the Biennial wanted to put her inside their exhibition area, someone else wanted to buy her, but these suggestions went against what the project was all about, and besides that, it was already too late...

At three oíclock in the morning Gustavo and Ingrid returned to the Piazza San Marco only to find a pile of crumbs. La Donna was totally crushed, as was the chair she sat upon, a witness to the extreme power that had been used to destroy her. Witnesses to the destruction later told the artists that a group of young Venetians had attacked her with kicks and punches. Falk and Aguerre walked around the Piazza San Marco to see if anything remained of La Donna. Their search paid off. They found one foot that was undamaged, and half of the other one, and they also found a hand. All of which were carefully guarded, so that the artists could take them back to Sweden and preserve them as Reliquias (Relics).

La Donna was something more than the physical manifestation of an idea from a group of artists, she was already a public work at the beginning of her conception. But not in the most common use of the term. She incorporated people and neighbours in her creation. This had less to do with the skill of the artists, and rather more to do with a demand, or a plea, from that body which was is in the process of being created.

(Translation by Tsemaye Opubor Hambraeus, international journalist)

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