Reference to 1996 Spirit Cooking art project whips up “Satanic sex cult” conspiracy theories among Trump supporters
From We Are Change:
In perhaps the most disturbing Wikileaks release to date, Tony Podesta (John Podesta’s brother) is invited to a “Spirit Cooking” dinner with performance artist Marina Abramovic.
…While this seems like a completely normal and uninspiring email, a look at what “spirit cooking” is, changes things immediately.
…In the video [here], Abramovic is seen painting the recipe for these “spirit dinners,” using what appears to be thickly congealed blood. The recipe read, at one point, “mix fresh breast milk with fresh sperm, drink on earthquake nights.”
The article is by Cassandra Fairbanks, an author who also writes for Sputnik, and it has been official endorsed by Wikileaks on Twitter: “The Podestas’ “Spirit Cooking” dinner? It’s not what you think. It’s blood, sperm and breastmilk. But mostly blood.” Other sites have also picked up the story, with Inquistr announcing that “John Podesta’s WikiLeaks Email Brings Evil And Satanic Cult Buzz To Hillary Clinton“, and Twitter is now full of deranged comments about elite Satanism and such. The email itself can be seen here; a follow-up email confirms that John Podesta did not attend.
Abramovic’s Spirit Cooking with Essential Aphrodisiac Recipes was a series of etchings and accompanying texts published by Editions Jacob Samuel in 1996 in a limited edition of 21 copies; the book is apparently 39 pages long, and the publisher has made the full text available on its website here.
The “breastmilk and sperm” item appears first, as an “essence drink”, and the instructions continue:
look in the mirror
for as long as it is necessary
for your face to disappear
don’t eat the light
There’s then a reference to self-harm: “with a sharp knife / cut deeply into the middle finger / of your left hand / eat the pain”; then to “fresh morning urine / sprinkle over nightmare dreams”; and then we’re advised that “in time of doubt / keep a small metorite stone / in your mouth”.
The book also contains a number of other “recipes”: for “fire food” (“on top of a volcano / open your mouth / wait until your tongue becomes fire…”); one “to be consumed on a solar eclipse” (“3 glasses of water / that a ruby has been soaking in for 3 days… / 13,000 grams of jealousy”); and then the “aphrodisiac recipe” (“7 days without eating/ 7 days without talking / 7 days without sleeping…”).
According to a blurb at MoMA, the book’s recipes are “evocative instructions for actions or thoughts”. Clearly, though, the “recipes” are not meant to be taken literally. From what I can make out from an essay in Spanish by Ana Bernstein available here (pdf), it seems that that the text is “performed”, but this involves simply writing the poems (which Bernstein compares with haikus) while painting “Power Objects”; the video thus shows Abramovic painting a figurine (using pig’s blood, apparently – hence the reference to blood in the Wikileaks Tweet), but she is not ingesting anything. If any actual ritual is implied then surely the “earthquake night” needs to apply, too?
I won’t quote further from the book out of respect for copyright, but it is blatantly obvious that this is simply an art project, and that the recipes cannot be used as the basis for any actual dinner party. I imagine the “Spirit Cooking dinner” referenced in the email was an event where perhaps the work was read from or performed by the author, or perhaps placed on display [See UPDATE 3 below, which confirms it was a normal dinner at which fundraisers for her projects were given “a Spirit Cooking memento”].
Marina!, What place do you see the occult having within contemporary art; can magick be made (not simply appropriated/ performed)? Thanks, K
Everything depends on which context you are doing what you are doing. If you are doing the occult magic in the context of art or in a gallery, then it is the art. If you are doing it in different context, in spiritual circles or private house or on TV shows, it is not art. The intention, the context for what is made, and where it is made defines what art is or not.
This aspect to Abramovic’s art is well-documented, but the above does not refer to “Spirit Cooking”, nor does it imply that the Spirit Cooking book forms the basis for any real-world ritual activity – much less that she serves up breastmilk and semen to her dinner guests.
UPDATE 2: In one particularly feverish extrapolation, Mike Cernovich explains that the email proves that Clinton’s inner circle belongs to a “sex cult”, and that apparently occult symbolism in Abramovic’s work is evidence of a secret society making itself known to “taunt the public”.
Cernovich then refers to other Wikileaks emails that reportedly show “Hillary’s efforts to protect Laura Silsby, who was caught trafficking 33 children from Haiti”. Silsby was one of several Baptist missionaries famously arrested in Haiti in 2010, and it was already known that Bill Clinton had made diplomatic efforts on her behalf. Without any evidence, Cernovich suggests that “perhaps those children were destined for Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘pedophile island,’ a sex cult resort that Bill Clinton visited dozens of times.”
Cernovich doesn’t respond well to criticisms of his theory; when someone on Twitter suggested that Cernovich is “actually losing his mind”, Cernovich’s reply was that the doubter is “a pedophile apologist”.
UPDATE 3: Art News has interviewed Abramovic about the claims:
The dinner, she explained, was a reward for donors to a Kickstarter campaign she had run. Tony Podesta has collected her work since the 1990s, and he attended, but John couldn’t make it. In fact, she has never met John Podesta.
“It was just a normal dinner,” Abramovic said, adding that about 10 people attended. “It was actually just a normal menu, which I call spirit cooking. There was no blood, no anything else. We just call things funny names, that’s all.” (The Kickstarter page advertised “traditional soups.”)
“Anybody who wants can read my memoirs and find out that [my work] is far away from Satanism,2 she said.
The Kickstarter page confirms that those who pledged $10,000 would be invited to
A dinner night with Marina during which she will teach you and other backers at this level how to cook a series of traditional soups, which you will all enjoy together. The night will end with the making of a golden ball, a recipe given to Marina in a Tibetan monastery. Marina will bring to this dinner a Spirit Cooking memento for each backer to keep.
UPDATE 4: The story has a spin-off in the form of a photo of John Podesta posed standing with a drawing of a fish on the palm of his left hand and the number “14” on the palm of his right. Conspiracy-mongers see in the left hand a reference to an esoteric symbol called “The Hand of the Mysteries” (or “The Hand of the Philosopher”), in which an open (right) palm bears an image of a fish and each fingertip is topped with an esoteric object. The “14” meanwhile, supposedly refers to Osiris, who was cut into 14 parts and scattered – his penis then being eaten by a fish.
The photo was posted to Twitter by Podesta in September 2015, along with an explanation:
Important but overlooked Global Goal: no. 14— we must protect our oceans and life they sustain
This refers to the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, of which number 14 is “oceans”. However, there is little hope of progress with believers in these kinds of conspiracies at the best of times; citing a United Nations project as counter-evidence is probably akin to pouring petrol on fire.
UPDATE 5: Some conspiracists are also drawing attention to another email, in which John Podesta refers to a wound on his hand in an exchange with a hand surgeon:
I’ve been doing well, but fear that the little finger may be getting infected. I saw Daniel Saturday and this morning and all seemed fine except the place where the finger joins the palm continues to weep.
Does this not prove that Podesta has followed the instruction to “cut deeply into the middle finger of your left hand”?
Actually, no – a wound to the base of the little finger is different from a deep cut to be middle finger, and the email dates to January 2014, more than a year before his brother’s dinner with Abramovic.
Further, the reason Podesta is communicating with his hand surgeon is because he’s just had an operation on it. A later email written to the surgeon after he fell when out running explains the background:
I took a tumble this morning while running. Besides a few scrapes and bruises, I’m ok. The little finger on my left hand (the one you operated on last January) got hyper-extended and the first knuckle up from the palm is red and inflamed.
The surgeon replied that he had removed “Dupuytren’s fibrous tissue cords” in January – this is a condition in which fibrous tissue prevents the finger extending properly. “The place where the finger joins the palm” is exactly the place where one would expect medical intervention to occur.
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