Monday, April 21, 2008

Body Sushi

Ok, I was scanning the interweb for some more information on Aliza Svartz, the Yale student who created a performance art piece that claimed to involve inseminating herself then intentionally inducing miscarriages by eating legal 'abortifacient herbs'. She wasn't really doing any such thing, it turns out. Or maybe she was; she likes to keep the question open. I'll be happy to engage you if you want, but my brief overall take: it was definitely a clever way to stir up some controversy by tweaking a bunch of the right wing's hot buttons: 'those elitist Ivy Leaguers,' 'liberal sluts,' 'wanton abortionists,' 'Godless East Coasters,' not to mention 'performance artists' in general, and successfully provocative - while disingenuously pretending not to be - but I'm not seeing it having done a whole lot to draw attention to real right-to-choice issues. Though maybe I'm wrong; I so often am.

Anway, while I was perusing the world wide grid, I found this little tidbit about Body Sushi, or nyotaimori, in Minneapolis. Yup, that'd be eating sushi using an (almost) naked body as a plate.

My first thought was of some of my peeps in the good ol' Midwest. "Well dang, I'd figure to see that kind of thing in New York or San Francisco (aka Barack Hussein Osama bin Laden Godless Bittertown Radical Feminazi Hippie Food Co-op Homoville), but out here in Minnesota?!" And then I had one of those little "can this be an ok sort of sex positive thing, or do I automatically need to get upset about body objectification and such?" inner monologues. The fact that (unlike in most places where Body Sushi happens, which overwhelmingly favor female models - to the extent that I coudn't find a single male image in my search) this Minneapolis nyotaimori-torium has both men and women as human platters helps me, um, swallow it.

So, whadya think? Most of you would agree that if you want to eat sushi or sardines or ice cream off your spouse's, lover's or roommate's naked bod in the privacy of your home (not that there's any such thing as privacy anymore, but that's another box of wine), that's a right granted you by the deity of your choice. How 'bout spending a bucketload of money to eat raw fish off a well-paid model in a restaurant? (And I personally find it amusing that the establishment in this particular article is called 'Temple') How about the notion of reinforcing racial stereotypes (the exotic sexualized 'otherness' of Japan, and Asia in general)? Is that diluted/assuaged by the fact that the models at Temple appear to be Midwesterners? Just don't try to claim that this is primarily a 'high end dining' experience, not a sexual one, or you'll get laughed out of the discussion.

Just some more stuff to make you go "hmm..."

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