Choreography for Carrot
by Tiziana La Melia
The metaphor “carrot and stick” refers to a combination of reward and punishment to induce a desired behavior; commonly illustrated with the image of a horse or donkey seduced forward with a stick that dangles a carrot in front of its face. With this, I imagine innumerous carrot choreographies, banal dramas of power and desire.
Juicy carrots dangle above me from a network of cotton, marionette-like strings. Accompanying these roots are two videos. “C for C Artist Interview” is an interview with the fictional artist who prepares for a performance in the studio. The dialogue is so cringy, yet so familiar in its platitudinous script of cliches. I squat to see an artwork by the fictional artist through a peephole. She is reaching for a carrot using a long stick with an inflated white glove attached to the end. She follows the choreography for carrot, all the while sitting, literally, on a “high horse”.
[Image Description 1: A page from the exhibition pamphlet. Written in blackletter font, the text reads: Stretch/ Inch forward, inch forward, inch forward/ gather (collect self)/ drive hand forward/ glide towards goal, feed inches at a time/ full extension/ reach for it/ r e e e a a a a a a c h h h h for it/ swipe, swat, swat/ strain, put everything into it/ relax and reset]
[Image Description 2: Most of the image is black, apart from a peephole view showing the fingers of a white glove reaching for the pointy end of an orange carrot. The carrot hangs from its greens, held by a metal clip tied to white string.]
Embodying the legend of Lady Godiva, the actress adorns extraordinarily long, wavy blonde wigs on her head and hips to conceal her nudity while straddling the saw-horse four tiers off the ground (it’s an allegory for the horse and other symbolic replacements using metonymic devices) cushioned by a cloth saddle. This puppet dramaturgy of myths happens in a sparse studio painted white. The Pre-Raphelite Brotherhood paintings come to mind, as does At Work, Ian Wallace’s performance at the Or Gallery in 1983, of an artist-cum-intellectual, reading. Shizen’s staging of the artist at work is more comedic and perhaps also more genuinely wary.
Lore claims that Lady Godiva agreed to ride a horse naked through town to appease her husband’s tax tyranny on the condition that villagers stayed indoors and did not witness her act of solidarity and humility. Tom, who dared to peep, was punished for it–whereas we are encouraged to watch, not only in the gallery, but daily during our scroll-stroll in our digital township. The work brings forward satirical parallels to everyday exchanges both in art and life: creative struggle, empty gestures, saviour complexes and looping societal mores. The interview’s protagonist offers this advice: “You’ve gotta grind the bread if you wanna bake the bread’.
-Tiziana La Melia
Choreography for Carrot
Nov 15-20, 2019
Ground Floor Art Centre
Images courtesy the artist:
pg. 4 | Excerpt from exhibition pamphlet. pg. 5-6 | Peephole view of Choreography for Carrot, 2019.
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