Vincenzo Fiore Marrese

Artistic Research

Good to eat (fragment)


A sentence from a well-known text of anthropology and personal communications as feedback related to my research "Good to eat (fragment)" suggested me an idea about the suitability of artworks. I developed research and artwork within the frame of food studies, ritual, and mythology. In the background, one can find ideas of command and obedience strictly connected to my common thread of the system of rules.

The title

A well-known sentence from "Le Totémisme aujourd'hui", published in 1962 by Claude Lévi-Strauss [note 1], triggered me for the title of my work.

The work is not associated with the specific question related to that sentence. The sentence gives me the inspiration that I develop forward. However, I like to keep the connection to the sentence to emphasize the creative process in the title.

I added the word "fragment" to avoid a collapse of the meaning. With the word fragment, I stress that the title is a small part of something else. The word fragment is also related to the fragmented objects in the artwork.

Several artworks imply suitability for thinking

The phrase "good to eat" has at least two meanings. It refers to food as "appetizing" [note 2] or edible since it is fit to eat [note 3]. I focus on the second meaning, edible. According to the dictionary, the word edible implies suitability and safeness [note 4]. Lévi-Strauss compare the ideas of "bonnes à manger" and "bonnes à penser" related to the "espèces naturelles" [note 5]. Following his idea, one can say that animals imply suitability for thinking. Likewise, I would say that several artworks imply suitability for thinking.

Ritual meal and food studies

There are fragments of tableware, a dish and a wine glass. They are related to the idea of the ritual meal. As the phrase suggests, it is a kind of meal with a ritualistic meaning.

According to Billie Jean Isbell, "ritual was defined as a series of formalized actions that are obligatory and standardized. These actions form a pattern of symbols that dramatize shared values and beliefs regarding the natural and social world" [note 6]. According to the common thread of the system of rules of my artworks, some keywords are relevant in this definition or ritual. I mean, the obligation, patterns, and the social world. There is a connection with my thread of the system of rules and food studies.

According to Enrico Mazza, there is a connection between the Christian Eucharist and ritual meals [note 7]. Likewise, there is a connection with a kind of idea of command [note 8]. Then, the wine in the ritual cup is the "Blood of Christ" [note 9].

Blood and birds

Birds' X-rays are a reference to the relationship between art and science.

However, the images of birds refer to a myth about blood and birds. According to Gianna Chiesa Isnardi, there are three sources of this myth, the Poetic Edda (Fáfnismál), the Snorri's Edda (Skáldskaparmál) and the Völsunga saga [note 10].

Here is the Fáfnismál. The text is in the original language (Old Norse) and English translation.

"Sigurðr tók Fáfnis hjarta ok steikði á teini. Er hann hugði at fullsteikt væri, ok freyddi sveitinn ór hjartanu, þá tók hann á fingri sínum ok skynjaði hvárt fullsteikt væri. Hann brann ok brá fingrinum í munn sér. En er hjartablóð Fáfnis kom á tungu honum, ok skilði hann fuglsrǫdd" [note 11]

"Sigurðr took Fáfnir’s heart and roasted it on a spit. When he thought that it was fully roasted, and the blood was foaming from the heart, then he touched it with his finger and tested whether it was fully roasted. He burnt [himself] and quickly put the finger in his mouth. And when Fáfnir’s heart-blood came onto his tongue, he also understood bird-language" [note 12]

Fáfnismál, Text in between the 31 and the 32 stanzas.
  1. Bellows, Henry Adams. The poetic Edda, Translated from the Icelandic with an introduction and notes by Henry Adams Bellows. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1923.
  2. Chiesa Isnardi, Gianna. I miti nordici. 2nd ed. Milano: Longanesi & C., 1997.
  3. Billie Jean, Isbell. To Defend Ourselves, Ecology & Ritual in an Andean Village. 2nd. ed. Prospect Heights: Waveland Press, Inc., 1985.
  4. Lévi-Strauss. Le Totémisme aujourd'hui. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1962.
  5. Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Il totemismo oggi. Translated by Danilo Montaldi. 6th ed. Milano: Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore, 1991.
  6. Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Œuvres. Edited by Vincent Debaene, Frédéric Keck, Marie Mauzé, and Martin Rueff. Paris: Gallimard, 2008.
  7. Mazza, Enrico. The celebration of the Eucharist : the origin of the rite and the development of its interpretation. Translated by Matthew J. O'Connell. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1999.
  8. Pettit, Edward. The Poetic Edda: A Dual-Language Edition. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2023.
  9. University of Oslo. "Bibliotheca Polyglotta." Accessed April 13, 2023.
  1. The sentence is: "On comprend en fin que les espèces naturelles ne sont pas choisies parce que «bonnes à manger» mais parce que «bonnes à penser»" (see Lévi-Strauss, Œuvres, 533). The question was: "Même à supposer qu’on puisse offrir une explication satisfaisante de la prédilection «totémique» pour les espèce s animales, il faudrait encore comp rendre pourquoi telle espèce est retenue de préférence à telle autre" (see Lévi-Strauss, Œuvres, 530).back to the text
  2. "interesting or attractive, esp. because you think it will be good to eat" in Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary, s.v. "appetizing," accessed 13 April, 2023, to the text
  3. "suitable, fit (...) good to eat" in Merriam-Webster, s.v. "good," accessed 13 April, 2023, to the text
  4. "suitable or safe for eating" in Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary, s.v. "edible," accessed 13 April, 2023, to the text
  5. Lévi-Strauss, Œuvres, 533.back to the text
  6. Billie Jean, To Defend Ourselves, 137.back to the text
  7. "The Christian Eucharist originated in the Last Supper of Christ, which in turn drew its character from the ritual setting of Jewish meals" in Mazza, The celebration of the Eucharist, 9.back to the text
  8. "he passed on the model, the type, of the Church’s Eucharist. The later is therefore an act of obedience to Christ’s command and an imitation of the type" in Mazza, The celebration of the Eucharist, 90.back to the text
  9. "The bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ" in Mazza, The celebration of the Eucharist, 106.back to the text
  10. Chiesa Isnardi, I miti nordici, 588.back to the text
  11. University of Oslo. "OE21: Fáfnismál," accessed April 13, 2023, to the text
  12. Pettit, The Poetic Edda, 509.back to the text