A few centuries before Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, a culinary practice in Tudor England amalgamated animals into hideous, spectacular meals, such as a suckling pigs head sewn onto the legs of a turkey. These dishes, exclusively used for display, stitched together parts of animals to create mythical beasts, monsters that deviate from the normal essence of a species and animate the otherwise dead matter.
The staging of these grotesque creatures on a long banquet table is a theatrical reminder of power and its ability to flip from rationality to barbarism. Sturla’s ceramic embodiments of these culinary glitches and para-possible creatures have been imagined with a similar sense of ornament. Ceramic, semi psychedelic, grotesque hybrid animals lay dead in the centre but the plates are reused as ashtrays, inviting people to use them and infusing these mad scientist creations with a sense of purpose and function.
Overlooked by the three horn blowers to guilds of trade; the fisherman, the farmers and the factory workers. These decorations outline a ragged, gaunt body, exhausted by the hunt, barely able to sound a horn and indicate the end of labour. This gathering marks the exceptional moment when the length of night meets the length of the day - a final flourish of a community before the working day gets longer and hampered by heat.
Sturla’s presentation, which includes furniture made from the ripped-up floorboards, is an eerie reminder that this gathering is no exception to the rule that every feast, by definition, is a state of exception or a state of emergency. We are led into a gothic installation where representations of labour meet that of power, an exhibition which brings the dead back to life and reminds us that the frameworks of a society obsessed with scheduling time are deeply rooted in the ghosts of industrialisation.
Photography: JKG, except additional details by X.Y., courtesy the artist and Pina