Are you comfortable? No? Are you female? No? Are you feminine? No? Ok good. God. good. It is what it is. Meat is meat. Sit, sext, sigh.
I intentionally maintain minimum wage jobs as a means to fuel my art both financially and conceptually while drawing connections between consumerism, sexuality and spirituality.
Post graduate school, I’ve been slicing on auto in a perpetual period of transition between teaching, day jobs, and residencies. Currently I reside in the basement of suburbia while slicing meat in a local grocery store deli. Essentially, I’m a starving artist, financially not literally, thanks to the unlimited meat and cheese at my disposal.
The deli acts as extension of my studio, as well a tool to reduce the gap between artists and non-artists alike through experimental means. Behind the counter, I utilize various means to investigate the tension between consumer and viewer, performer an employee, artist and gallery.
A helpful Smile in Every Aisle is the daily mantra of the delicatessen I call home. Corporate displays our smile scores weekly. Anything less than 100% is unacceptable. Unfortunately, I received a record low secret shopper score, primarily for not smiling.
You should smile more. I should smile more.
Since the incident, I practice smiling during lunch breaks with bathroom selfies from above. Sometimes, I bring ham into the bathroom and cover my face with a slice of ham. Although not proven, I believe that a thinly sliced ham pressed on face diminishes the aging process, masking fine lines and wrinkles. When break is over, I peel the ham off my skin, swallow and spread my smile in the mirror.
Returning to the slicer on loop, my interactions across the counter consist of “Hi how are you today? I'm good, good.” on repeat. Agreeability reigns.
I hand the customer a half pound of ham and take solace in thinking I’m a good person. But as a middle class white American, perhaps I’m too comfortable. Navigating between the comfort and disconnect felt among the suburban sameness of the home and the cyclical cold cuts of the everyday, I smile and ask, What is a good life? What does good sound like? What does good feel like? And is good, good enough?
The skies are blue; the grass is green yet I’m left with a desire to pull myself out of the vinyl siding of sameness. Sure it is nice, but is this good? Is there more? What comes after lunch?