Iron, calcium, protein and sodium are the nutritional building blocks of Korean birthday soup, a broth made with kelp, anchovy and daikon radish.
Those same nutrients are present in menstrual blood. At “Feast: A Performative Art Dinner” on Sunday night at Morris Ramen, that connection between “the nourishment we shared with our creators in the womb” and six elegantly plated courses was more figurative than literal.
Kel Mur, the artist who conceived Feast, “didn’t encourage there to be a literal interpretation of menstruation on the plate,” Morris Ramen chef/owner Francesca Hong explained to diners. She and co-chef Autumn Fearing “wanted to have blood sausage and concord grape sauce to express how we are thinking of menstruation now. There was discussion about it, but she gave us the freedom to come up with the menu.”
Feast, now in its third iteration, was as much about care and comfort as it was about exploring a collective discomfort, shame and complicated feelings about menses. Mur herself took private joy in the fact that she was “kind of making all these guests eat menstrual blood without eating menstrual blood, which I think is funny and transgressive, or subversive,” she said.
Kelly Murray, a New Jersey native who moved to Madison from New Orleans, makes sculpture and performance art as Kel Mur. She’s in her third year of the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mur has long explored and challenged ideas of the female body in her work and once described herself as “a body-positive, feminism-forward artist and designer who is in love with found objects.”