Saturday, 16 May 2009

How to Eat a Pomegranate

This post shows five views of the same pot. It's about 90 cms high. It depicts, in flat-on-the-surface, frieze-like, decorative form, the ritual of pomegranate eating. This what I wrote for the catalogue - which assumes an Iranian audience by the way. If you click on the pictures they should enlarge.

How to Eat a Pomegranate

I think it was on my second visit to Iran that I learnt how to eat a pomegranate. The first visit was spent learning how to cross roads. On the second visit I stayed most of my time in Yazd, and young woman taught me ‘ab lambu.’ English people have no idea what to do with a pomegranate. Some people eat them one seed at a time, using a pin, but most people just don’t bother. I made a film of my Iranian friends eating pomegranates so that my English friends could learn how to do it.

This is how I explain ‘aab lambu’ to my English friends:

You hold the pomegranate in both hands and slowly, but firmly, begin to squeeze it. Gradually it softens as the fruit inside is crushed by the pressure of your fingers and the juice released. The skin, however, must remain unharmed. When it is completely soft and squashy you take a sharp fruit-knife and pierce the skin, carefully. A large drop of red juice will appear on the surface. Put this ‘bleeding’ part to your mouth and squeeze, drinking the juice until the fruit is spent and only the crushed pith is left inside. The pomegranate now resembles a deflated rubber ball – which is what ‘lambu’ refers to.

Catalogue text ends here. This is one of the most in-yer-face decorative pieces I've made in a long time. I didn't really intend to use decoration as rhetoric, although it does have a slightly rhetorical feel to it, nor is any irony or parody intended and I dont think any suggests itself. It is related to the film I made, of the same name, which is about the vexed question of virginity. This peice is an 'iran proof' version of that and should, ideally, be shown with a large group of pomegranate bowls, see above, a sort of homage to Hannah Wilke's ‘159 One-Fold Gestural Sculptures,’ a collection of virginal foldings in painted, fired clay.

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