Project Room

The Liver’s Ten Kinds of Desire

Barbara Weissberger

September 19—October 30, 2011

The Liver’s Ten Kinds of Desire – a wall-mounted installation of hand-cut, shaped, symmetrical photo-collages, and a window installation consisting of a vinyl graphic of a large-scale photo-collage – takes its title from Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem Anodyne. The poem, an exaltation of the body and its urgent desires – “the liver’s ten kinds of desire/& the kidney’s lust for sugar” – celebrates the corporeal in an earthy way.

Barbara Weissberger describes the development of the installation: Disgust was much on my mind as I worked on the installation – a central image is raw meat.   Meat is a longstanding preoccupation of mine. It is both body and food; in turns beautiful and repulsive; both nature and culture.

I start by photographing meat and flowers in the studio. The process is many-layered.  I arrange cut and torn photographic fragments, some of which I draw on with ink, on a tabletop.  A mirror, placed vertically on the table, doubles the image. Arrangement and reflection are re-photographed together in one image to create a symmetrical abstraction made up of representational bits. The resulting print is then cut out by hand following the edge of the sometimes elegant, sometimes goofy shape that is formed by the composition of paper fragments and reflection.  The cut shapes are attached to the wall to make up the room-size collage installation.

As I worked with the image fragments for this project I had an impulse to tuck the bits of “meat” under other bits. As if the pieces with fragments of white or pale yellow petals, or with patterns of inky lines, would somehow mediate my own complex responses to the raw; to the animal, food, body. How easily do sensations of disgust and desire slip from one to the other? How does this slippery relationship drive and shape us as individuals with psyches and bodies, as social beings and as a culture?

My gratitude to the Camargo Foundation, the Montana Artists Refuge and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts for the time and space to complete this project.