At Gladstone, Gusmão & Paiva Offer A ‘Cowfish’ As A Surrealist Treat

THE DAILY PIC: 16mm footage presents a bizarre supper.


THE DAILY PIC: The classic surrealist scene puts an umbrella and a sewing machine together on a dissecting table, as an example of all that might go weird with the world. But how about a live cowfish on a classic Blue Willow dinner plate? I recently came across a few minutes of 16mm footage of just such a sight at Gladstone Gallery in New York, thanks to the artist duo João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva. (Click on my image to watch the piece.) The cowfish alone is a most peculiar beast, with a pair of horns on both face and rear end. Seeing it served up live, as someone’s supper, just piles on the peculiarity. The poor thing, as the literal “fish out of water”, slowly puffs its lips and shimmies its fins, as though imagining that it’s still at sea. There’s poignancy here, and the hint of mortality that’s in all the best surrealism. The stutter and shudder of the projector begins to feel like a death rattle. (Produced by Museo Marino Marini, Florence in collaboration with Lamu Palm Oil Factory, Kenya; image courtesty Gladstone Gallery, NY)

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