Over the weekend, visitors at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art were asked if they’d like to participate in a video art installation. Interested parties were led into a dark room featuring a long dinner table covered with a blue checkered picnic tablecloth, a smattering of fruits and flowers and ― surprise! ― Katy Perry’s actual head.
The art stunt was the latest edition of Derek Blasberg’s video series “Derek Does Stuff with a Friend,” a partnership with Vanity Fair. The point, it seems, is to horrify random museumgoers by placing them face-to-face with a pop star’s floating head assembled to look like some unlucky visitor’s main course.
“The artist is called Katheryn Hudson,” Blasberg tells a group of innocents while introducing them to the faux art installation. (Hudson is Perry’s birth name.) “It’s a kind of rumination on the feast of life and everything we have to eat. And the two-faced capitalist system we are currently living in.”
“Hi guys!” Katy Perry then says like a possessed cheerleader as various crowd members slowly realize what’s happening. She adds: “Buy my new single!” The whole thing is very, very awkward and seems to go on for quite a long time.
The whole “I’m a sexy food” thing seems to riff off Perry’s recent music video for “Bon Appétit” ― which features Perry being kneaded, breaded and boiled in a nude-colored body suit, though she never seems to die or suffer from whatever torment is thrust upon her. Eventually, it is revealed that Perry has been in cahoots with the chefs the whole time, and ends up rebelling against the rich diners poised to cannibalize her, feasting on them instead. Bon Appétit!
As Benjamin Sutton wrote in Hyperallergic, Perry’s attempt to combine the fields of fine dining and performance art is painfully weak, especially given the long history of fruitful hybrids exploring similar subjects. He cites artists like Marina Abramović, Carolee Schneemann and Jennifer Rubell as having created visceral, absurd and knotty imagery commenting on the relationships between bodies and meat, sex and food, sustenance and pleasure.
Perry’s piece on the other hand plugged her album, and that’s about it. We’re reminded of the astute commentary of one particular Whitney-visitor-turned-art-critic who said, upon first encountering Perry’s decapitated head, “What the f**k?”