Christine Ay Tjoe’s exhibition Eating Excess at STPI interrogates our understanding with consumption and probes into our complex relationship with food that shapes our identity and societal values. These 33 works produced during Ay Tjoe’s residency at STPI are based on the notion of excess conceived by Georges Bataille (1897 – 1962), a French philosopher and art critic, who argued that it is excess that drives economic activity, where excess energy needs to be expended and used to shape a society.
Ay Tjoe’s new body of works offers a timely commentary and fitting perspective to the current global economic turmoil. Ay Tjoe’s visual statements of this expenditure of excess and society’s obsession with food are conveyed through her intense line drawings applied across various media. Her acrylic boxes containing handmade objects strangled in wire are layered with scratch drawings and images of strewn food, Ay Tjoe refers to the boxes as “casings” symbolic of the body’s physical limitations and strain digesting this excess.
Ay Tjoe complex and beautiful etchings reveal monstrous figures with insatiable wants attacking canned food and sausages. It continues her discourse on processed food which delay spoilage thus providing a way to expend excess food and disconnects us from its actual source. Ay Tjoe underscores the need to respect the sanctity of food in our age of excess consumption and eating habits that prize convenience and speed over all else. STPI Chief Printer, Eitaro Ogawa says, “Ay Tjoe’s spontaneous and free ranging approach to the print medium, her lines, aggressive and intense, belies her calm and unassuming exterior. I feel Ay Tjoe draws from personal experiences and dilemmas to produce such riveting works.”