Recently, images from the SWAG collection were posted on the wall in a group show in Minneapolis. The show establishment, restaurant that it was, catered to the tastes of various eaters. One eater found the images from this project offensive, claiming (or so I hear, third-hand) she did not wish to see “pictures of body parts” while she was eating. I had to wonder whether the body parts in question – forearms, hands, a stomach – were not, in fact, frequently on display while eating, particularly the first two. But perhaps this particular patron ate with her arms tied behind her back, face to plate.

The deeper issue, I am guessing, had to do with not wanting to digest both food and the politics of need in the same moment.

I had to guess that she, herself, through some magic of the marketplace, was insured.

[I also heard that she may have misread the tattoos as track marks from shooting up. It’s too bad she didn’t look more closely. On the other hand, if someone mistakes the images for such things far away and discovers their actual message close-up, it’s kind of the perfect shock. And not at all a reading I’d imagined for it…].

It was decided (ahem) that the images should either be “covered” somehow – for the curious to unveil, then conceal again – or be removed from the show. They were covered, but briefly, as the entire show came down early – due in part to this discreet act of censorship. For my part, I was interested in how the whole enterprise of concealment/approach was going to work out in this busy restaurant/gallery. It actually would have been a fairly precise spatial metaphor for the social shame around “unspeakable” economic facts that the SWAG project, as a whole, is meant to ridicule and upend. But the show’s fate was not my call.

Not exactly the “ideal” viewing situation for this work (work that’s better worn by me and you than represented, anyway), but an interesting turn for the project to take in mixed-use space….

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