Friskies Paté (for Joyce Wieland)

2017, 13.5 min., digital

In 1967, artist Joyce Wieland made the film Catfood, in which a cat eats fish after fish upon a small table.  With the film, Wieland transforms domestic space—round table, white tablecloth, door in background, drinking cup—into artistic space.  She takes an everyday, oft-ignored—and, probably to some, unwatchable—action and renders it important, forces the audience to look.  She carries out the labor of art-making in domestic space (or a space coded to represent that) where women are traditionally expected to perform the labor of home-making.  These are political acts.  Feminist acts.  Acts carried out via a playful and deceptively simple film.  Fifty years after Wieland made Catfood, I re-performed the creation of the film, though loosely and with some changes—some chosen, some unavoidable.  The fish has been replaced by a processed loaf in a can, unrecognizable as the animal that it came from.  Likewise, the film of the original has been supplanted by a digital file, made of 1s and 0s that bear no resemblance to the objects they depict when the data is processed for our consumption.  I created the work in a different era, that of YouTube cat videos and a near-constant flood of remake/reboot movies motivated by dollar signs.  And yet it is still a 13.5-minute movie of a cat eating, a movie that denies the domestic and re-frames the everyday, a movie that trades in expected labor for chosen labor.