Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Consuming passions: the edible body parts of Kittiwat Unarrom

Inevitably, the interest in biosociality in all of its varieties would at some point have to allude to the cultural significance of cannibalism in the modern imaginary. I'm only just starting to gather material on this topic (and I'm further distracted by a burgeoning interest in genocide, and related terms such urbicide etc), a task which is complicated by its obvious intersection with postcolonial critique. Suffice to say, I don't currently have at my disposal the necessary means to attempt any thorough evaluation of this Thai body artist.

My initial thought is that it would be necessary to begin with the concept of glocalisation (i.e. how globalising logics are adapted in accordance with local conditions). To be sure, these works spark memories of the naturalist logic featured in works such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and also the "bone house" of Joel Peter Witkin (or even George A. Romero, as featured in my previous post), but is there any other crosscutting logic of commodification at stake? I'm hoping to visit Bangkok's Museum of Forensic Medicine next month in search of some answers, and, time permitting, post them here. It will necessitate more than a splicing of quotes from, say, Baurdrillard's Symbolic Exchange and Death....but until then, here is a brief introduction to Kittiwat Unarrom:
Sculpted entirely from bread, these severed human heads are the work of Kittiwat Unarrom, proprietor of Thailand’s gruesome “body bakery”. The ceiling of his Ratchaburi bakery/studio is festooned with dismembered hands, feet and internal organs dangling from hooks. The Fine Art student says that his macabre creations were inspired by visits to Bangkok’s Museum of Forensic Medicine. He uses anatomy books to get the details right.

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