Critical Response: Ahis 333: Studies in Contemporary Praxis: Appetites

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Critical Response

On January 21st, 2010, Randy Lee Cutler gave a lecture titled Open Wide: The Great Digestive System to the AHIS 333 Interdisciplinary Forums: Studies in Contemporary Praxis: Appetites class. In her talk, Cutler used the metaphor of digestion to describe how as a society today, we are constantly ingesting and digesting information, processes and data from our environments. These may be socially, culturally or community based and are important to recognize as a valuable part of our practice as art producers.

Through explanations and photographs of her own work, Cutler illustrated how she actively uses this within her practice. She states that by using the metaphor of digestion, and assimilating her experiences into performances, she can “re-imagine embodiment” within the world around her. This can be seen in her collaborative performance with Maya Suess “Guilt, Gelt and Gefilte Fish: A Jewish Lesbian handbook”. This installation brought together ideas of homosexuality, race, identity, culture and food, among others, that are all somehow a part of Cutler’s everyday life.

Cutler also emphasized the fluidity she embraces in her practice- how she doesn’t fix herself into one static category, but like the process of digestion, is open to varying elements that assimilate in various ways. I found Cutler’s use of digestion and its multitude of content most fascinating. I agree with the idea that the gut informs and guides our decisions and am interested in how, by paying more attention to it, we can use it in our artistic endeavours.

Cutler stated that she sees everything in her life as a part of her practice- from teaching to gardening; she is constantly digesting. “It informs how I interact with people, spaces and materials. It informs a variety of behaviours and actions including biking, composting and gardening. Real praxis doesn’t stop at the work of art.” For me, this is very true- everything a person does in life is affecting and...
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