Brooklyn Museum Gives ‘Head Cheese’ New Meaning

Photo: Sam Dangremond

The art was edible at the Brooklyn Museum last night. For one night only, instead of being forbidden from touching the artwork, museum visitors were encouraged not only to touch, but also to eat it. The museum hired food artist Jennifer Rubell (no stranger to this sort of thing) to create Icons, a one-night-only show that required audience participation. Rubell told us, “In every other part of the museum, the main mandate is not to physically interact with what’s there, and I found this kind of loophole where during museum events, there is a possibility of interacting with what’s there.” The highlights included four Marcel Duchamp–inspired Champagne fountains, eight “drinking paintings” in homage to Jackson Pollock, and suspended cheese heads surrounded by heat guns, causing them to drip onto crackers below. “This is ‘head cheese,’” co-chair Mario Batali informed us. “That’s Jennifer Rubell’s face made in cheese.”

Vito Acconi’s Seedbed provided inspiration for another part of the edible exhibit. Seedbed “is a kind of self-portrait where he was masturbating under the ramp and vocalizing his fantasies about the people who walked on top of the ramp,” says Rubell. “So in the place where I think that he was masturbating there are these carrots growing up, so it’s basically like telling a joke about his piece.” The night culminated with the smashing of a twenty-foot-tall piñata in the shape of Andy Warhol’s head. Packaged foods like Hostess Sno Balls poured out, and dessert was served.