Tomato In Your Mind – A Transference of Energy

  1. I was born, and lived for a time, in a greenhouse. My world was hot with sunshine coming in, not getting out. Imagine all that heat trapped behind the glass, bouncing around and being sucked up. It was a big place that stretched on for miles and was filled with little green families getting hot and fat and red together. Our lifecycles are swirling stories where hands pick, hands throw, hands put food in the mouth. We ripened and became desirable, the pivotable players in an exchange as unintelligible or as simple as photosynthesis and digestion. We were happy in our ignorance, we didn’t realise we were delicious.


  1. ‘Do you have the right time?’ people ask, looking at me with squinted eyes. They look at me and all around me trying to fix their position in time from my position in space. I hold you people where you are, planted in the earth by your feet, heads pointing up at me, the length of your upright bodies casting shadows. I am the golden cosmic fruit shining in the sky. The centre of our system. Keep your eyes on me.


  1. I am hungry for love, rip out my beating heart and throw it at the Sun. Ssssss.


  1.  Spaghetti al Pomodoro (serves 4)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Crush the garlic cloves with the heel of your hand, add to the oil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the red pepper flakes, and then crush the tomatoes between your fingers, letting them fall into the saucepan. Stir in the tomato juices, and season with salt to taste.

Simmer the tomato sauce over low heat until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the basil sprigs to the sauce, and set aside.

To cook the pasta, heat a large pot of water. When the water reaches a boil, add a pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook until the pasta rises to the surface of the water, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.

Remove the basil sprigs from the tomato sauce and discard. Transfer the spaghetti to the saucepan and toss over medium heat to combine. Add a drizzle of olive oil, divide into four warmed bowls, and serve immediately. (Recipe courtesy of Eataly)


  1. “Are you hungry? You go to their ‘restaurant’ [usually a hut serving food]. Are you thirsty? You buy a bottle of water from the gang master for 50 cents. Do you need a girl? You pay the prostitutes the gang master is pimping,” explains Sagnet. The labourers would work everyday from the crack of dawn until the late afternoon in extreme heat for a daily wage of around €20. Sagnet says the workers would usually shake branches of tomatoes into large three-ton containers for as little as €3.50 per container. (From Red gold and blood money: the fight to end modern slavery in Italy’s agricultural sector by Matteo Congregalli


  1. Children of the Sun sacrifice your red flesh here. X. It’s time to get real, I made you who you are so throw your soft juicy bodies at me in thanksgiving. Give yourselves freely and with love. Vote for me, be votive for me for I am the Sun and if you have any doubts here is my manifesto: Take me. Take me. Take me. Take me. Take me. Take me. Take me. Take me. Take me. I’m yours. This is the real order of things.


  1. I’m making a massive effort. I don’t like getting up and I don’t like doing things. I have been mostly unproductive except for pissing into the compost. Someone sent me some money the other day, I took the cheque and sent a note in reply, I said ‘Your money will be spent lavishly without return. Squandered. Up in smoke. No receipts’. I’ll use my fee to buy tobacco, I’ll roll it up into little cigarettes and smoke it or put it in a pipe. This piece needs some real work, some dedicated thinking time – I think it could be a two pipe problem. I need to lie in the Sun for a little while, I need to nurse my sore head, I need to get some energy, can one of you make me a bloody mary? I am prodigious. I am a funny girl. I am hungry.


  1. I’m the greatest star

I am by far

But no one knows it

That’s why I was born

I’ll blow my horn

‘Til someone blows back

I gotta break the lights

I’m gonna make ’em fight

I’ll flicker and flare up!

All of the world’s gonna stare up!

Looking down you’ll never see me,

Try the sky cause that’ll be me!

I can make ’em cry!

I can make ’em sigh!

Someday they’ll clamor for my drama

Have ya guessed YET!

Who’s the best yet?

If ya late I’ll tell ya one more time

You bet ya last dime

In all of the world so far

I am the greatest, greatest


(I am the greatest star, from Funny Girl by Bob Merrill and Julie Styne)


  1. This is not an expression, it is a transfer of energy dedicated to the Misunderstood Perplexed Audience (MPA). We Give – We receive.


  1. The incongruous tomato went up in smoke.. The MPA lamented and cried ‘Why smoke the tomato?’ The artist scratched her head and said ‘It had to go somewhere. I don’t care if you eat it into your body or smoke it into your mind – just use it or lose it’. She starts drawing out a graphic – message – system that reads: TOMATO IN YOUR MIND.


  1. She writes a story in which the Sun, an artist, a fruit picker and a tomato sit down together for lunch…


  1. An explosion. Hands reach in and squeeze my brothers and sisters into sauce but the psychic cycle of energy never concludes it just finds new form. The greenhouses and fields abound with cosmic materialism. We’ve worked the clock around and can’t go on. Movement of information becomes a protest becomes a redirection. Tomatoes fly…  Information, feeling, movement. head trance (head fuck?). All the messages are reflecting back on themselves – this thing is eating itself, fuelling itself. There’s nowhere for the energy to go now except…BANG!


Originally part of the installation Take Me To Your Leader part 2, Samuel Worth Chapel, Sheffield Cemetery, November 2017.

Laughing and Crying and Not Knowing (a preparation for research)

  1. There are so many questions that are impossible to ask because they seem impossible to answer. How can I, in this form so shaped by the world, ever have a clear enough head to find out what is really going on? I may ask – ‘how do I find love?’ or ‘how do I make art?’ or ‘how can I exist in this world with others and be understood?’ Maybe I know the answers already but too often I am driven to make them fit into a framework that supports my lack of clarity – why else would I ask? Someone, or something else is required to give me objectivity (a moment of objectivity that I will then project onto). If research is a way of moving on then what is it I need to know?


  1. I ask the I Ching. The reply: Hexagram 27, Nourishing. The corners of the mouth (providing nourishment). A nourishing hole. What goes in? What comes out? This is a gateway to being whole. You have fed me laughter and tears. Gateways to not knowing. An Abyss in six parts.


  1. I ask Georges Bataille. He replies: It is entirely in the act of posing being as a problem for myself, being as completely unknown, and of throwing myself into this nonunderstanding [non-connaisance], that I discover an experience not only as rich as religious experience but, it seems to me, even richer, more profound, if that’s possible, because in this experience I separate myself further from the experience of the profane life, wherein we entirely adhere to objects that have only an extremely debatable right over us, a right these objects acquired by the isolated fact that we are hungry, by the isolated fact that we can suffer, by the isolated fact that fear often governs our actions. In the experience of nonknowledge about which I am speaking, if there remains a religious experience, it is entirely detached from our anxiety over the future, it is entirely detached from a possible and threatening suffering that would govern this future, it is no more than a game. (Nonknowledge, Laughter and Tears)


  1. We stare into eachother’s eyes playing the game of who will blink first. I win. We continue with who can keep a straight face. I lose. Your serious expression sends me into kinks of laughter. I like to be this close to you, so close we can’t see each other.


  1. This is a hexagram, a piece of quartz that has six sides. This side reflects itself. You are my mirror. Please tell me what to do next.


  1. The Hermit. I separate myself further. In a cave by the sea I crave the ecstasy of ignorance. In this dark hole lights flash across the walls, or are they in my eyes? Images of men march over the rock along with words (RIVER-BED, crystal synchronisation), numbers (4,17, 25, 80). The colour of the walls is blue, blue, blue. My face is wet. Socrates has died and I no longer love the world. I crawl deeper into the hole at the back of the cave. I slide down, down, down. Through the darkness of invisible crystal caverns. I have no guide into the underworld.


For Lea Torp Nielsen


Research Presentation, part 4

So a kind of disenchantment started before the death of God, or perhaps this itself was just an illusion, ‘Enlightenment created other Gods busy behind the scene of the screen.’ (Michael Taussig). So enchantment has been transformed, or transfigured into capitalist society. Another way of seeing it is that when enchantment is banned or repressed it returns in the form of the uncanny, hauntings, ghosts and zombies. Things neither living nor dead. Giorgio de Chirico gives a compelling description of this uncanny feeling.

‘Perhaps the most amazing sensation passed on to us by prehistoric man is that of presentiment. It will always continue. We might consider it as an eternal proof of the irrationality of the universe. Original man must have wandered through a world full of uncanny signs. He must have trembled at each step.’ Giorgio de Chirico, ‘Mystery and creation.’ P58 Art in theory.

When I read this I am reminded of Mary Shelley’s description of Frankenstein’s monster when he finds himself alone in the woods, the ultimate feral child. The monster is the result of rationality gone wrong, a creation made without love or beauty.

This feeling of being haunted was expressed and taken apart beautifully by the Surrealists. They looked back to the bursts of repressed material that manifested in the marvellous and other aspects of Gothic imagery in what Hal Foster describes as an attempt to re-enchant ‘a disenchanted world, a capitalist society made ruthlessly rational.’

What he means by disenchanted world is not so much a world without God, but the regime of spiritless production and consumption that was and is capitalism. The surrealists used some of its own language, that of the shop window and the outmoded and turned it back on itself, and in doing so revealed repressed material, unleashing the uncanny elements of the automaton or mechanised human, and the fetishization of the female form, this kind of extreme caricature revealed what it was capitalism was doing. They wanted to burst open the bourgeois banality of social existence, exploit taboos, a kind of shock tactic. The surrealists reacted to the modern world like Frankenstein’s monster, with the fresh eyes of a ‘primitive’, as if the city was a forest full of signs. It was a new world. Making art is a way of transforming this feeling of anxiety into curiosity, and gaining some feeling of control.

In his book about the caves of Lascaux, Georges Bataille describes (speculatively) men who were discovering prohibitions, and entering from the animal world into the world of man. First he worked and then he played. Not all of those paintings are acts of magic; some are made in the spirit of festival, excess and play. They were learning to transgress those prohibitions, usually around sex, but primarily about death. Through art we played, broke the world of prohibition open.

Ripped Out Pages

What Battaile says about prohibition and transgression is fascinating, ‘the fulness and reality of the game man plays are his consequences overstepping what is prohibited’, he refers of course to a conscious transgression, this knowingness is part of ‘the desire, the need for a more profound, a richer, a marvelous world, the need, in a word for a sacred world.’ This he calls Authentic Transgression, which occurs in contrast to accident or indifference to the rules. This is illustrated most clearly, I discovered at page 49-50, which has been torn out of the book. This act of vandalism to a rare and valuable book disrupts my reading and induces irritation rather than a sense of the marvelous or mysterious. There are two other missing pages, their jagged remains jut out from the binding, I can only guess that  were taken for their colour images.

I deduce that an image or images of the Main Hall of the caves proceeds the diagram above, and that they must have been stunning. Bataille describes the hall as 30 x 100 ft, and ‘the most important part of the cave’, and therefore the most important part of the book. Now I realise they have gone I really want to see them.

My annoyance has turned to curiosity, where did they go? Would it be possible to locate them, perhaps using library records to track down every person who had borrowed the book and send a letter asking, ‘did you steal pages 49-50, 51-52 and 89-90? It seemed arduous and pointless. The idea of replacing the missing pages myself seems a much more interesting idea.

It’s funny the urge one has to fill the void, replace what is missing with something else. However it seems strangely appropriate that through this gesture the problems of prohibition and transgression could be explored. Prohibition: Don’t damage books. Transgression: Ripping pages out. In this case, an unsatisfactory transgression. It serves no purpose, except perhaps that my outrage has made the book a sacred object. I hold back the urge to get hold of another copy of the book or google search the images. I want to hold on to the sensation that belongs to them not being there.

Perhaps another prohibition is: Don’t change the content of books. But I find that this is something that can be transgressed or played with more easily. The authoritive voice of the author, who’d been to Lascaux and researched the work of others could be replaced by my own guessed facts, deduced from the other pages, the voice of someone scrambling in the dark. This would be something i would enjoy, it reflects the reality of the caves themselves. We can only make educated guesses at what the paintings were for or what they may have meant to the people who made them. Bataille himself makes wonderful use of this guess-work, he explores the instincts of modern day people and draws logical conclusions from this. For me this act of creativity, or even just the thought of restoring the pages might be redemptive, it would make the initial transgression worthwhile.


This is Norman, he is a little white ceramic gnome who watches over the strawberries in my garden. He isn’t real but the squirrels think he is, thats how it works. I’m not too sure how he fits with the subject of this post, other than the fact that he depicts a magical being. He looked so nice out in the sunshine that I had to take his picture and show it to you.

Back to Bataille in the caves of Lascaux. He says that those paintings were not necessarily magic, they didn’t all serve a function, i.e. to help the hunter etc.. he offers the suggestion that the people who painted those images were playing. It is play that distinguishes our kind of human from the Neanderthal, who just made tools and worked. Art making was the first playful act. In this light it makes sense that the advert, I’m going back to the ‘Rowntrees’ Randoms’, is a kind of magical act/image. It most certainly serves a purpose and it does this through enchantment.

Two pieces in this years Northern Art Prize highlight my preoccupations. Crowe and Rawlinson’s video ‘Twinkle’, shows two figures wearing leprachaun outfits. The video image has been filtered to create an hallucinatory colouring and twinkle effect and the figures have been mirrored so as they move the fixed symmetry of their faces makes them appear beast-like. I felt as though i should have liked this work but it didn’t really move me, it was a bit horrific but what happens after that?. It was all effect and the way it had been made sort of stripped it of interest. On the other hand Pavel Buchlers ‘il castillo’, two tiny pencil ends sharpened down to spell the title out of their remaining text was all about work and play. The real magic is in the relationship between the two. He doesnt need to dress up and behave like a shaman to induce the feeling of joy or understanding one gets when encountering art. He just showed a little bit of himself, enough to reach out…

Random Adventure

At the bus stop recently there was a poster advertising some sweets called Rowntrees’ Randoms. If you buy the sweets you might win a random adventure. Others have observed it far more eloquently than me, that these adverts are not just selling stuff, in this case sweets, but a life style (See the TV. series The Century of the Self). These sweets are for random and quirky types who aren’t influenced by adverts, they make their own choices. It occurred to me that some people really want to win these competitions that winning a competition makes a dream become a reality. Someone else will look after you, provide a reality for you. I always wanted to win something like this when I was a child, not just because of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but because some of my reality was lived out through product related media. Things like Coca-Cola and fruit pastilles were a real and important part of my world.

The advert is a kind of message from someone, and it appears as if they care. I’m pretty sure they don’t. Compare this to Batailles’ interpretation of the cave paintings at Lascaux. He sees the marks on the walls as distant messages, akin to friendship, reaching out through time with warmth and humanity. The two images communicate very different things on the surface but both relate to public-private modes of communication in different ways and for different purposes. In the caves what was made in the dark was part of a sacred ritual meant only for a few. Now they can be seen by anyone, yet we don’t fully understand what they are or who made them. Clever adverts tap into our deep-rooted, subconscious desires and are designed to be seen by as many eyes as possible. Its all secular and democratic yet it feels so wrong compared to the secrets of Lascaux. We used to put our dreams and desires into the hands of a Shaman, his was the world of light and dark, illumination and ignorance. He read the signs for our ancestors, the world was full of them, now its full of adverts.