nd [circa 2013]. A brutal tale of revenge disguised as an innocent folksy recipe book.
C.J. Grossman is a Berkeley-based book artist, teacher, & activist. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions and library collections, including Women of the Book and Under The Wings of Artemis.
"At first glance, C.J. Grossman’s Cooked Pig appears to be a hand-crafted cookbook, created with collaged vintage imagery and a recipe for chocolate custard ice cream. A doll-sized rolling pin that serves as the spine for the book and embellishments such as the decorative scalloped edges lend the book a loving-hands-at-home quality.
With a second look, a dual – and darker – story emerges. Juxtaposed against the stereotypical images of a happy housewife, a seductive 1920’s-era vamp and the archetypal whipped cream-topped chocolate dessert in a tulip sundae glass, Grossman has placed text that speaks of disappointed marital expectations that turn ultimately to spousal abuse.
This spread is captioned, “She tried to be a perfect wife in every way.” Additional text, which appears to have been cut from magazines or newspapers, includes cooking terms that come to have sinister connotations: “whip,” “break” and “yield.” As things move along, the double meanings multiply, wedding the humorous to the disquieting in both imagery and narrative. The tale accelerates as the woman, who really does try hard to be an ideal wife, is beaten by her husband for no reason. In the end, the battered wife retaliates, using her culinary skills in the process. She concocts a poisoned cake that kills her husband.
Like Medea, Grossman’s heroine took revenge for being wronged by her husband. And, like the avenging wife in Cooked Pig, Medea, in her all-consuming love for Jason, tried to be the perfect wife, helping him obtain the Golden Fleece and aiding him in his escape. When Jason found a more desirable wife, Medea’s corrosive anger exacted an extreme retribution: she killed their children in a shockingly bitter act of revenge. Meanwhile, Grossman ends her tale of domestic misery in sweet revenge. As she writes, “She and the kids live happily ever after!”" [exhibition catalogue, The Wings of Artemis]. Fine. Bright and unmarred. Mixed media/collage, includes miniature rolling pin, chain, laminated cut leaves. Item #9945