Skin, liquids, chemicals, sweat: Things that make some of us squeamish fascinate Lucy McRae. You might remember the self-styled “body architect” from her hypnotic video for Robyn’s Indestructible, in which she wrapped the Swedish pop star in a half mile of dye-filled tubes; or her Swallowable Perfume, a capsule of chemicals that release when the body perspires. “The body is like the core,” McRae explains, “and I build layers and concepts on top of that.”
This week, the Australian-born, Amsterdam-based artist released her newest short film, commissioned by the Australian celebrity chef MissChu. In Meet Your Maker, a lone scientist works in a basement laboratory, molding human parts out of colored gelatin. “Everything is edible,” McRae writes. “The stuff on the model’s face is inked rice paper, and the jellies on her body are molded agar agar, which is made from natural seaweed.” The woman slices the molded faces and body parts with a kitchen wire cutter, then eats the very human-looking sushi with a pair of chopsticks, alone in a darkened storefront.
Gruesome? A bit. Macabre? Not quite. As McRae explains, she came up with the concept for the film after discussing food and culture with Nahji Chu, a chef who has found fame in Australia as the head of a cult restaurant. Chu came to Australia as a child refugee from Laos, and she’s built an empire on her double identity (the branding for her restaurants feature her immigration papers, for example). Chu and McRae found common ground in the idea that food, the body, and identity are absolutely inseparable. The woman in Meet Your Maker, explains McRae, “is using her own body as a test bed, fusing gender and blending ego like a chef constitutes food.” A rough analog of Chu? Perhaps.
The video borrows its aesthetic from McRae’s last film a commission from Australian cosmetics line Aesop, which shows a scientist administering bizarre beauty treatments to an incapacitated patient. Check that out here.