The Atwood Truffle, by Dan Nuttall
The Atwood Truffle
Margaret Atwood is an award winning Canadian author whose literary works often deal with issues of identity, survival, the body, wilderness, feminism and, at times, zombies.
The oil pastel “Atwood Truffle” is based upon Margaret Atwood’s short story “Kat” (1990) which explores the break down of a relationship. At the end of the relationship Kat sends her excised ovarian cyst - containing hair and teeth - to her former lover. Patted lovingly with powdered cocoa before being sent the cyst is not “privileged figure”, is not “body”, but is both part of former “self” and “other selves”.
When Atwood gets in your head, she stays in your head. It was only two years after Atwood’s short story was published that the artist Francis Bacon died. I caught myself wondering if he had ever read Atwood’s “Kat”? Like Atwood, Bacon gets in your head and stays in your head, the pendulum of his naked light bulb sparking your nervous system:
Ode to Francis Bacon
(Dan Nuttall, 2013)
So much about Atwood and Bacon is about the body, the figure and the figurative. Atwood has carefully outlined that her works that are considered “science fiction” are really more aptly described as “speculative fiction” – events and technologies are entirely feasible given the world we currently live in. In contrast, science fiction addresses unseen or un-realized technologies (e.g., time travel). Similarly, Bacon spoke about “great art” as having attributes that reinvent fact or known existence, resulting in a “re-concentration” of the known. In a world where one casts a vote for fictional dinner duos I choose Bacon and Atwood.
When looking at “Atwood Truffle” can one consider it “figurative”? It is derived from a real object source (both a short story, and a form of cancer known as a “teratoma”). But is a teratoma a “figure”? When Bacon’s obsession with the mouth and in particular his favourite scream from the movie “The Battleship Potemkin” appears in the truffle does it become more of a figure? When does flesh become figure?
Without a voice, the “Atwood Truffle” screams for attention.
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