At first glance, they appear to be ordinary objects — a designer dress, a top hat, a high-heeled boot. But after closer examination, the viewer realizes that sliced peas have been fastened to the dress lining; the surface of the hat has been crafted from sardines with eyes staring into your soul for their time has clearly run out; that the stiletto boot has been stitched together using ark clamshells with a fish head tip. Michiko Kon’s work is simultaneously seductively beautiful and shockingly disturbing. Michiko Kon: Cannibal Feast presents a collection of platinum palladium prints from the 1990s in which Kon draws on her powerful imagination to create a tension between the real and the imagined, subtly manipulating the perceptions and sensations of her viewers.
Michiko Kon’s dreamlike work parallels the intentions of the surrealists, specifically when looking at the work of Méret Oppenheim. Cannibal Feast (1959) a significant work by Oppenheim which inspired this exhibition’s title, featured a live woman (later replaced by a mannequin) garnished with fish, fruit, and nuts. Oppenheim set the table with cutlery, inviting the spectator to a cannibal feast, a lavish celebration of life, love and mortality with the intent to provoke a mixture of pleasure and discomfort. Michiko Kon takes influence from these ideas and builds upon them through the use of photography as her means of expression. It fixes the process of transformation she engineers with numerous elements that were once “alive.” Although these creations are not actually alive, they are not complete corpses either.