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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Suzan Pitt | Asparagus


eating your vegetables
by Douglas Messerli

Suzan Pitt (creator and director) Asparagus / 1979

In Suzan Pitt’s remarkably bizarre Asparagus that vegetable is filled with more phallic possibilities than any cigar in Bergman’s films. And unlike George Coe and Anthony Lover’s The Dove, the phallikan symbol here is joyously treated and awarded a totally feminine perspective.
       The faceless hero of Pitt’s work, puts on a mask and carries off a huge bag, not unlike Pandora’s box, and unlocking it a theater audience, allows them a surreally colorful head-trip of objects of all sizes before herself (or himself, for this is a kind of transgender figure) before unleashing a downpour of asparagus which she/he consumes and deep-throats and defecates.
      Pitt, herself has described her work as “a visual poem that is an erotic allegory of the creative process, in which a woman views and performs the passages of artistic discovery.”
      
     But the cell animation work of 20 minutes can be openly interpreted in a large number of ways. Yes, this woman definitely is imagining a kind of orgy of joy, but she is also consuming, like so many Americans, everything around her. Yet this vegetable, despite the color and smell of one’s urine after it is consumed, is most definitely “good” for you, a healthy choice. And although it is certainly a phallic-looking object, Pitt makes certain the represent its flower like tips, which link it with the vagina.
      And why is this woman “faceless,” with the need to put on a mask? Perhaps without her desire she has no identity in her humdrum life, or is she, given what she is about to do, attempting to hide her identity, performing a fantasy not unlike the wife in Buñuel’s Belle de Jour? Notice how, when she dons the mask, how much larger she is in her reflection. Perhaps the work not simply about the creative process but is satirizing it as well. Or, finally, as I hint above it is perhaps a woman seeking a new identity where she can stand aside the world players on the generally male-dominated stage. It is probably all of this and more, but it’s also simply a roller-coaster ride of breathtaking images, something which, once you’ve witnessed, you cannot quite get out of your head.
     Pitt teaches now at Cal-Arts near Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, March 17, 2018

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