The phenomenon of hunger artists, which appeared from the 18th to the early 20th century, became a form of entertainment to receptive audiences at sideshows, fairs and circuses. Fasting for up to 40 days their deteriorated bodies became objects of macabre fascination.
The hunger artist central to Martin’s adaptation, played by Hayley Carmichael, fasts for years to wide adulation until his craft goes out of style. Upon leaving his long-term impresario and joining the circus, he performs for unappreciative and doubtful spectators, creating the neglect that leads to his eventual death.
The film highlights the contradictory human experience of our bodies as both ‘subjects’ and ‘objects’. Martin has previously mined film’s capacities to communicate subjective states, as well as to clinically frame objects. A Hunger Artist continues her explorations regarding states of being – levels of consciousness, the internal and the external in both body and mind.
A Hunger Artist by Daria Martin was made with support by Schering Stiftung, Berlin, Germany; Site Gallery, Sheffield, UK and VISUAL, Carlow, Ireland. Further funding has been provided by Wellcome Trust, London, UK; Arts Council England, London, UK; University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, UK and St John’s College, Oxford, UK.
Martin was recently nominated for the Jarman Award 2018. Last year she published the edited volume Mirror-Touch Synaesthesia: Thresholds of Empathy with Art (2017) with Oxford University Press.
Daria Martin was born in 1973 in San Francisco, USA. She lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include A Hunger Artist, Site Gallery, Sheffield, UK, Artist Focus: Daria Martin, New York Jewish Film Festival, New York, USA (2018); Subjects and Objects, VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow, Ireland (2017); Daria Martin: A Hunger Artist, Schering Stiftung, Berlin, Germany (2017); One of the Things That Makes Me Doubt, ACCA: Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (2013); Sensorium Tests, Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK (2012). Recent group exhibitions include Somewhere In Between, Wellcome Collection, London, UK, Synesthesia, High Line Art, New York, USA (2018); The Electric Comma, V-A-C+KADIST, V-A-C Foundation, Venice, Italy, I Want! I Want! - Art and Technology, Birmingham Museums; Performer and Participant, Tate Modern, London, UK, Myths of the Marble, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway touring to ICA Philadelphia, USA (2017); The New Human, Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden, touring to Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2016); SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms, 14th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey (2015); 10th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China (2014).