Helen Anna Flanagan: THE FEAST

Exhibition opening: December 1, 2023, at 18:30 PM
Duration: December 1 – December 18, 2023

Gallery hours > Tue-Fri: 2:00 PM – 8:00 PM / Sat: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

In the cult film “La Grande Bouffe” (dir: Marco Ferreri, 1973), a group of bourgeoisie retreats to a luxurious villa with a mission to collectively meet their end through excessive overeating. Adapting Ferreri’s satirical approach to consumerism and decadence to the contemporary context, while relying on his extravagant depictions of abundance, Helen Anna Flanagan will stage a stylized, equally striking (though not morbid!) banquet at the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery.

film still “Gestures of Matter”

The centerpiece of the exhibition is “Gestures of Matter” (2020), an absurd film meditation on excessive consumption. However, contrary to Ferreri’s wealthy protagonists, Flanagan’s characters are eccentric melancholics — an overwhelmed waitress, an amateur gastro critic, a poetic gourmet, and an astute fortuneteller — encountered in a dreary fast-food restaurant eating “the blandest, soggiest and most blubbery dishes on the menu.” Expressive shots of their chewing, swallowing, slurping, and sipping are accompanied by audio fragments that highlight the contradictions associated with contemporary food culture. These contradictions range from overeating and extreme diets to the elitist world of fine dining and populist concepts such as “all-you-can-eat,” all the way to the disparity between expected servility and predominantly poor working conditions in the hospitality industry.

film still “Gestures of Matter”

The thematic contradictions from the film expand into the gallery space—it’s simultaneously a lavish dining room equipped with a massive edible cake sculpture displayed on an aestheticized replica of Ferreri’s iconic dining table, and a neighborhood kebab joint offering exclusively bright pink kebab sculptures. The kebab serves as an embodiment of the popular phrase “you are what you eat” and a metaphor for accumulation, excess, and unnecessary growth characteristic of capitalism.

Absurd and visceral, Helen Anna Flanagan’s “Feast” urges us to contextualize the individual boundaries of the body and the capacities of pleasure, as well as to contemplate the production and consumption necessary for a dignified life within the limits of sustainability.

film still “Gestures of Matter”

Helen Anna Flanagan (b. Birmingham, UK) is an artist working in video, performance and installation. She looks to investigate social structures and the political subtext of the everyday, focusing on affects and emotions, labor and the body. A selection of solo exhibitions includes CENTRALE | lab, IKOB Museum of Contemporary Art, Atelier Arthur Rogiers, Openspace, V2_ Lab for Unstable Media and bb15. Her work has been presented in group exhibitions including Museum M, Focal Point Gallery, WIELS Centre for Contemporary Art, Aspex Gallery, Kunsthal Gent, Netwerk Aalst, IMAI – inter media art institute, M HKA, CAMPO Victoria, MOMA Odessa, among others. Her films have been presented at a number of festivals including International Film Festival Rotterdam (NL), Aesthetica Film Festival (UK), Sharjah Film Platform (AE), Lo Schermo Dell’arte Film Festival (IT), Proyector Plataforma de Videoarte (SP), Go Short International Film Festival (NL), November Film Festival (UK), among others. Her work was awarded the IKOB Feminist Art Prize (2019), the VISIO Young Talent Acquisition Prize (2020), a fellowship with Needcompany (2021) and the second prize of Art Contest Brussels (2021).

Curator: Barbara Gregov
Organization: Maja Pavlinić // GMK
Technical support: Marin Kovačević, Jasna Givens
Design: Josip Knežević

Project is supported by: Ministarstvo kulture i medija RH, Gradski ured za kulturu Grada Zagreba, Zaklada kultura nova, Mondriaan Funds