a dinner of last things | KN: Raum für Kunst im Kontext, Berlin | 2016
gelatin, food items, glass, fabric, sound installation, and a single channel projection
A dinner encased in gelatin backed by a video projection, a sound piece, and a performance to explore scarcity and material history.
Scarcity is the reduction of things.
The last of things.
It is taking the last parts. It is not looking back.
Gelatin is made by reducing animal tendons, bones, and cartilages to extract collagen.
“Early gelatin dishes offered medieval diners a novel form and shape-shifting texture coupled with a means of temporarily holding off spoilage for the jelly-encased meats and vegetables.
Since most Catholics abstained from meat on Fridays, late-medieval cooks developed fish jellies, usually made from eels boiled in fish-stock, fortified with swim-bladders (the internal stabilizing organs) of fish like cod.”
In modern times, gelatin is produced in factories through a series of steps. First the bones, tissues, and skins are loaded into chopping machines that cut the parts into smaller pieces. Then the pieces are soaked in hot water to remove fat and grease and dried in an industrial dryer. Then they are soaked in lime, or another acidic substance, for several days to kill any bacteria and loosen the collagen. After that, they are put in large, stainless-steel extractors and boiled, down. The resulting collagen-rich liquid is run through a flash sterilizer and then into evaporator tanks, where it is dried into sheets. The sheets are then ground into a fine powder.
Beyond food, gelatin is used in medicine, photography, and to test the efficacy of bullets because it is resembles the density and viscosity of human and animal flesh.