The Scotsman newspaper
Saturday 12 February 2005
Health inspectors cancel art duo's human blood pudding
AN ATTEMPT to cook a human blood pudding as an act of outrageous art has
been abandoned after health inspectors were alerted. Scottish artists
John Beagles and Graham Ramsay were planning to slice and fry black pudding
made from their own blood in a show of "live art" this afternoon.
But they were forced to abandon the project after Edinburgh City Council
dispatched its environmental health officers to the Royal Scottish Academy
building on the Mound, the shows organisers said. The National Galleries
of Scotland, which runs the building, also read the riot act against any
such creative cookery.
John Beagles, from Glasgow, insisted yesterday that the pre-cooked puddings
made from two pints of the two artists blood will still be part
of the exhibition. "They are cooked, we will be taking them through
to Edinburgh, and they may be in the fridge or sitting on the table,"
he said. "We will be standing over them, guarding them." The
pair will also show a film detailing how they prepared them. "Theres
a film that documents the whole process, the blood extraction, the cooking
Body Parts performance art show continues this weekend.
Kate Downie, the president of the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA), stressed
it was part of the societys annual exhibition, which also includes
watercolours, paintings, contemporary film and sculpture. "There
are 16 other artists performing over the weekend, and its deflecting
attention from what is going on," Ms Downie said. She explained that
the council became involved after being informed of the two mens
show, titled Black Pudding Self Portrait. "The city council sent
an environmental health officer to see what they were doing. They kicked
up an incredible stink and said there is no way you can do this.
"I think they made the assumption we would be sloshing human blood
all over the place. "Originally they were going to be slicing it
up and frying it and offering it around to the audience, not with the
intention that anybody would actually eat it." Ms Downie added that
the gallerys director, Michael Clarke, also rejected any frying.
She dismissed speculation that a pavement protest was planned today.
A spokesperson for the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) said: "Following
a risk assessment being carried out it was felt that, in the interests
of hygiene and public safety, the live performance should not go ahead.
"However, the NGS have no objections to the cooked product being
displayed within the Body Parts exhibition and, if the cooking and preparation
can be filmed elsewhere, to the showing of a short film of the artists
Ms Downie said: "These artists are very good, they have an amazing
presence. They will certainly be there and they have got permission to
take in their cooking efforts to show everybody."
The blood for the black pudding was stored after daily home visits from
a nurse. Ramsay has said the show represents a mix of self-portraiture,
meat products, and cannibalism. The two men succeeded in frying slices
of the pudding in a show at the Gallery of Modern Art in New York and
serving them up on a plate - before a manager protested. Footage of that
show will be part of the film on display in Edinburgh.
Last summer saw another Edinburgh art show abandoned due to health issues.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stepped
in to stop a magic show at the Assembly Rooms that promised an attempt
to produce 250 live rabbits from a hat.
Body Parts was put together by the SSA and the head of exhibitions at
the Royal Scottish Academy, Colin Greenslade. Both organisations date
back to Victorian times and have sometimes struggled to have their activities
in the world of contemporary art recognised. "If the SSA doesnt
attract the next generation of artists, we will die on our feet,"
said Ms Downie.