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The project proposes an artistic reading of stone ingestion while questioning the pathologizing of this practice by psychology. It contemplates the mouth as a site of profanation as well as a mediating device of possession, digestion and knowledge.

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Alfonso Borragan

Alfonso Borragan

The research will be developed by a series of collective ingestions and the development of a video-essay. Could this be realized through a metabolic photography? Could this photography produce a different way of memorizing?

The project proposes an artistic reading of stone ingestion while questioning the pathologizing of this practice by psychology. Stone ingestion, an ancient but unstudied field of research will be an axis that unveils the paradoxes between scientific categorization of human behaviour and the inexhaustible pluralities of culture. This research reflects on different processes of ingestion such as the biological, cultural and historical. It will start by investigating communities that ingest stones; the meteorite ingestion in Mali, the Haitian clay cookies or the eating of Terra Sigliata during the Roman Empire that was imported from Egypt. I will approach this work through the theories of Dr. Chevalier Jackson, who argues that these ingestions are produced by a biological and ritual necessity rather than a psychological pathology named PICA (Psychological disorder of eating behaviour).

My work explores the creation of temporary communities through celebration and ingestion. Collective processes would represent a very important part of the research methodology. These actions will be collective experiments and performances driven by stone ingestion. These processes begin when I approach a local community to develop the research with them. I collect oral histories and practices celebrating new and contextualized ritual actions. For instance, the project I developed in India, based on a series of collective light ingestions. In collaboration with five street vendors we prepared fluorescent food that was served and sold every Friday evening. Groups of people gather to ingest this food producing a collective delirium. This action melted the old sacred traditions (food and light as sacred element) into a new social and ritual manifestation.

In my practice, stones are given to people to ingest, engraving them in their bodies. The bodies become both the bearers and the inscribed surface of the artwork. They are the photosensitive support and photographic surface. I read this process as an unstable photography that generates traces in our memory. These traces become a proto-photography. The work is an expansion of Photography based on biochemical processes, biological and geological tissues/surfaces.


Primary supervisor: Jayne Parker
Secondary supervisors: Hayley Newman, Aaron Parkhurst (Dept. of Anthropology)