Hello from one of the basement dwellers!

After an exciting and quick move to the ISC residency studios in Mana’s basement, I am finally settled into my space and starting to tinker.

I am a recent graduate of PSU so I am feeling the awkward growing pains of life after school. Aside from the existential acne, my foray into everyday life has been exciting and mind expanding. I was fortunate to receive a Windgate fellowship after graduation that allowed me to travel for three months in Europe. During this time, I investigated food processes, both handmade and post industrialized. I saw how Parmeggiano Reggiano Cheese, balsamic vinegar, and Parma ham was made. I watched olives being processed and packaged and saw wool transform from raw fluff to thin strands of yarn. I learned that these methods are as much connected to the hand as they are to the surrounding environment.

I am interested in how the process of food making happens, from raw ingredients to packaged items. Our bodies are factories for production. Spit, sweat, semen, mucus, tears, blood, flesh and even new life become physical products while emotions and interactions become invisible products. I like to think about food as a metaphor for the body. Our bodies are just hunks of talking and thinking meat. We expire and rot and in the larger scheme of things, we have a short shelf life. When the body is seen as a means for production, there is opportunity for exploitation. In my work, I try to intertwine the ideas of food and consumption in order to expose the exploitative relationships we have with each other.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be an ISC resident and join the artist community at Mana Contemporary. Mana, with exposed pipes and huge spaces, feeds my interest in the industrial and factory setting. There are many nooks and crannies to explore in the old tobacco factory. I was super excited to check out the vault room and hope to do a video or installation in this space.

I hope to do a video piece that fleshes out the ideas behind my former piece, Tear Milkers. This piece is a contraption that “milks” tears with two suction cups that fit around a person’s eyes. The tears are then collected in a bucket below. In the video, these instruments will be housed in a factory setting and people go to work every day to milk their tears. After the tears are collected, they are used as the brine in jars of pickles. At home, the workers are emotionless, as if their feelings were drained along with their tears. The cycle is connected as we see the workers wake up in the morning and eat the pickles for breakfast in order to fuel their sadness and tear production.

I’m super excited to join the ISC, Mana community and look forward to the next two months!

By Christina Dietz

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