Miriam Simun
Human Cheese, 2011.
Photos : courtesy of the artist

Miriam Simun’s oeuvre traces a provocative thread through the ecological effects of climate change and human exceptionalism. Her projects offer surprising alternatives to food production that underscore the economic and technological challenges of a sustainable diet that is both protective and respectful of biodiversity. In Human Cheese, Simun uses human breast milk, which is sourced online, to make cheese in her kitchen. Her efforts are then sold in The Lady Cheese Shop, an installation that adopts the look and language of an artisanal “speciality” store. The human cheese is produced and distributed as a real commodity — a quintessentially “natural” food for human beings. Simun’s anti-anthropocentric critique takes on a particularly dystopian feel in GhostFood, a joint effort with artist Miriam Songster. GhostFood comprises a mobile food trailer that offers scents of foods endangered due to climate change, such as chocolate, peanut butter, and cod. Participants inhale the scents through a wearable device while chewing and swallowing a paired food accompaniment. The design is inspired by the physiology of insects, whose antennae are used to smell their environment and orient their movements. By foregrounding popular “staple” foods that may become endangered without environmental efforts, Simun’s project provides a creative solution to the loss of biodiversity and a peek into the dystopic future of human sustenance. In Cemetery Safari Yoga, Simun shows how human efforts can aid in protecting wildlife within urban environments. The project involves a series of public performances wherein yoga is practiced within a cemetery as participants monitor wildlife through cameras worn on their foreheads. Here, Simun reimagines urban green spaces and foregrounds the cemetery as a natural resource that requires protection.

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This article also appears in the issue 87 – The Living - The Living

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