Just when you thought nothing about 2016 could get weirder … it just did. This morning the term ‘spirit cooking’ is trending on Twitter. What is the term, why is it trending, and what does it have to do with the election? Let me try and explain.
WARNING: If you are the queasy type, or think you might not want to read this at work, don’t continue.
First, the term ‘spirit cooking’ surfaced in a WikiLeaks email dump, which included an email from Tony Podesta to his brother John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chair. The email was a forward from Marina Abramovic, a “performance artist,” who performs some really bizarre things. Here’s the email:
Date: 2015-06-28 01:48
Subject: Fwd: Dinner
Are you in NYC Thursday July 9
Marina wants you to come to dinner
Sent from my iPhone
Begin forwarded message:
From: Marina Abramovic <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>
Date: June 28, 2015 at 2:35:08 AM GMT+2
To: Tony Podesta <email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>
I am so looking forward to the Spirit Cooking dinner at my place. Do you think you will be able to let me know if your brother is joining?
All my love, Marina
So what is this ‘spirit cooking’? Who is Marina Abramovic? And is the email from her real?
First up ‘spirit cooking’ seems to be a piece of performance art, using what appears to be animal blood to write out how to connect with spirits. It also includes spreading the “blood” around a room and on top of some sort of statue. Is it “satanic” as some have said? There is no evidence that it is, but it is certainly weird (and the type of thing the National Endowment of the Arts would probably fund.)
Here is a performance from Italy in 1997:
Abramovic adapted her performance art into a cookbook for a Museum of Modern Art exhibition. Here’s the description at the MOMA website:
Spirit Cooking was the first project Jacob Samuel produced with his portable aquatint box, working with Abramovic—a performance artist with little printmaking experience—in her Amsterdam studio. The artist chose to make a cookbook, writing a series of "aphrodisiac recipes" that serve as evocative instructions for actions or thoughts. To allow the artist to create the accompanying etchings in a manner consistent with her body-oriented practice, Samuel prepared the plates with soft ground so she could scratch directly onto the surface with her fingernails and encouraged her to work with spitbite, using her own saliva with nitric acid to paint on the plate.
A Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Abramovic’s institute raised more than $600,000.
Who is Marina Abramovic? New York Magazine did a feature on Abramovic last month. She is a 70-year-old, Yugoslavian-born performance artist. She has collaborated with people such as Jay-Z and Lady Gaga. Her art is certainly out of the mainstream to many Americans, yet she can draw a crowd. In a 2010 exhibition in New York, reportedly 750,000 people lined up to stare at Abramovic, including James Franco.
While Abramovic’s act is certainly bizarre, we don’t yet know if she is a portal into some depraved world that has engulfed Podesta or the Hillary campaign. But hanging out with her is certainly not something I think a lot of Americans would rush to do.