"The Lion’s Share"
Cover of Rita McKeough's "The Lion’s Share."
Rita McKeough: The Lion’s Share
University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, 2012
A bizarre mock restaurant – complete with a soundtrack of a lion eating – is the subject of this saucy little book about Calgary-based artist Rita McKeough’s recent exhibition at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. “McKeough describes the installation as a 3D-version of a Looney Tunes restaurant in which things have gone terribly awry,” gallery director Josephine Mills writes in the introductory essay. The culmination of a recent series of exhibitions dealing with food, it featured table settings with motorized spears that frantically stabbed at hotdogs, glasses of milk with their own tongues, and a kitchen floor littered with hundreds of egg shells.
The 64-page book includes photographs of McKeough, dressed in a chef’s coat and hat, herding hotdogs toward a faux-feedlot at the opening reception. McKeough’s work offers a light-hearted entry to current debates about eating animals and the safety of the industrial food system. A second essay by Elizabeth Diggon, a graduate student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., notes the artist’s efforts to reframe conventional understandings, not just of food, but the exhibition space. “McKeough’s reconfiguration of the gallery into a diner subverts the traditional ideology of the art museum and opens the space up for dialogue.”
McKeough, a 2009 winner of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, has exhibited as an interdisciplinary artist for 30 years and is an instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design.