Feminism, food and desire: a look behind the scenes at Obst und Gemüse’s “Munchies”

Femininity and sexuality are at the heart of “Munchies”, a feminist show created by women living in Berlin. After watching the show, Jessica Philbrick caught up with the minds behind Munchies to chat about feminism and how the performance empowers women to indulge in their desires. 

While “munchies” are usually associated with snacking, I recently experienced a different kind altogether, during a fifteen-minute basement performance by young female artists in Berlin. Hosted in the ‘Obst und Gemüse’ basement room, three performers combined their femininity and sexuality with a variety of sweet foods over the course of the show. 

The cast of Munchies consisted of a master, or leader, who held a divine power over the other members. They slowly danced around their master within this small and darkened space adorned with cupcakes, condoms full of popcorn, donuts and cream. Each performer was eating off one another, licking and chewing food items, all while sexual tension accumulated in the air.

Minutes into the performance, food began to fly through the air, body parts became smeared and the pressure rose in the room. The music became stronger as they all started singing the lyrics to the overarching soundtrack (Bootsy Collins’ song called “Munchies for your Love”), ending the show in a sensual chant of lyrics, “your love is kinda sweet, sweet enough to eat, I got the munchies for your love”.

The artists involved in Munchies have an eclectic background. It is the bringing of these minds together, in my eyes, that makes the show so exciting. The concept was created by Lucia Farron-Diamantis aka Miss Döner Teller Kebab Versace; costume was managed by Hannah-Lee Jade, who creates her work within Obst und Gemüse, and set design was handled by Tal Tassari. The remaining cast included Lizzy Sell, Olivia Mcgregor and Amelia Emma Forrest, who has a background in dance from The Baltic Dance Theatre.

The venue, Obst und Gemüse in Neukolln, is a project space with a strong sense of community, design and creativity, where these artists meet and collaborative frequently.

The performers were right when they said the show would be “so divine, you will be full for days.” Since watching, I cannot get the track out of my head and most definitely wanted to eat some sweet foods after the show. Feeling like I wanted more, I went on a quest to get more details about their sweet creation.

“The feeling is that they have been so taken over by a desire of something sexual and delicious it becomes somewhat disgusting.”

Can you explain the Munchies show itself? What went down over the fifteen minute performance, from your perspective?

Amelia: When you walk into the world of “Munchies” you walk into a brothel of gluttony. For me “Munchies” represents a utopia, were women are not shamed for their desires. It is an empowerment and a fuck you to those who may say “she wore the short skirt, so she deserved to get harassed.”

Lucia: The Munchies Qwan and her darlings invite the audience into their world of decadence and lust. They were empowered and literally feeding one and others’ desires. The food is the catalyst for power, consumption, sexuality and helps create this sense of chaos – much like the world we live in. From my perspective, (on stage), there were open mouths, wide eyes, smiling faces, doughnuts on gold chains, whipped cream and just general excitement.

Would you identify this show as feminist art? Or as anything else?

Hannah-Lee: I feel greed and consumerism is a big theme for me in Munchies. I guess  sexuality, standing as an individual and not being sucked into the world of desires and losing our own sense of self [are also relevant themes].

Amelia: Yes, because it demands sexual self-expression and sexual empowerment for women, something that I believe is directly related to how we see and respect ourselves and how we say yes and no in situations such as consent and shaming, etc.

Lucia: I feel like everything I do is feminist art whether I’m aware of it or not. I am a woman. What I like about Munchies is that we are letting you indulge in us, (the performers), but on our terms. We are in control. Even if you are a male, you are watching the show through rose-tinted female gaze sunglasses.

“Just keep making shit and eventually the people who are meant to find you/vibe with you will”: Lucia Farron-Diamantis

Can you talk about the collaborative process involved in creating the show?

Hannah-Lee: I’ve worked with Lucia many times on different shows of hers, and I’ve been in a couple of the Munchies shows before. I love the energy and each time the difference it has depends on the people involved. Olivia and Emilia are both special characters I’ve met in Berlin. Olivia through dance and a show she did where it was more theater and Emilia through my clothing design. I feel that everyone really brought their own idea of what Munchies was for them, it made it more unique and definitely more sexy. I feel that the intimate environment it was in allowed more expression and self-guided feminine energy.

Amelia: It was my first time working with these artists and the process was collaborative and collective. One that was based very much off our own personal experiences with a very clear intention to use the piece as also a healing process.
Lucia: In terms of collaboration I think if people are giving their time and craft, it’s important that they see a bit of themselves in the piece. So we were constantly having conversations about the piece and trying different offers and relating back to our real life experiences. You’re only as good as your collaborators!

Do you have any general thoughts on being a young female artist in Berlin?

Hannah-Lee: Berlin may be called ‘cheap’ but it’s good to arrive with a plan. It’s still a new city and it’s Germany. Not speaking German is a challenge.

Amelia: I find it incredibly inspiring to work with other artists inspired by feminism or other confrontational work. I find it encouraging that it gives a place for discussion and therefore for healing which are elements I believe to be the essence for why art exists. Advice would be to never stop studying and doing workshops, you meet so many like minded people, and from there, who knows where your network can lead you to. And be open.

Lucia: The show always comes together and if you meet people on the same energy flow as you, trust that. Just keep making shit and eventually the people who are meant to find you or vibe with you will! Be all action rather than all talk.. I’m actually both!

Have you got any plans for Munchies in the future?

Hannah-Lee: I would always love to work with Lucia on Munchies. I think it can always grow, change and develop into communicating a good message for the current time.

Amelia: Yes, I would love to work with Lucia again. It was a pleasure and truly inspiring to be close with such powerful women.

Lucia: Munchies is forever blossoming and evolving. She will be doing the festival circuit in New Zealand and Australia early 2019, and then back to Berlin and hopefully Edinburgh. The ultimate goal is to make it a cult Musical, much like the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Jessica Philbrick is an artist who has recently moved to Berlin from New Zealand. Her art practice is based around research relationships to femininity through clothing and appearances. Often interviewing and photographing women, her work aims to embrace and explore femininity. You can view her work by clicking here.

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