July 2nd: McDo Shrine and Mama Shrine

Eat Art Marathon

Definition of shrine by Merriam-Webster:

1    a :  a case, box, or receptacle; especially :  one in which sacred relics (such as the bones of a saint) are deposited

     b :  a place in which devotion is paid to a saint or deity :  sanctuary

     c :  a niche containing a religious image

2:  a receptacle (such as a tomb) for the dead

3:  a place or object hallowed by its associations


Definition of shrine by Wikipedia:

A shrine (Latin: scrinium "case or chest for books or papers"; Old French: escrin "box or case") is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon, or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped.


On the birthday date of my mother, I've always wondered how to make a symbolic gesture in her memory. I realised that many cultures have worshipped memories or asked favors of deceased people and of gods with food offerings on altars or temples throughout History. The Buddhist religion still uses this ritual nowadays, especially in Chinese and Thai cultures. Once the essence of the food is consumed by the spirit during the ritual, food is usually left uneaten to rot, given to animals as birds or cats, or left to the monks in temple (even though they are encouraged to not cultivate desires or expectations for it). It could also be given to the homeless or people simply take it back home once they are done. I experienced these symbolic acts when I was a child with Santa Claus's cookies and milk left next to the Christmas tree on the 24th at night, or with the flowers left to wither on graves, stuffed toys to children or white bikes to cyclists who perish in accidents on memorial sites.

I decided to make two types of shrine, one satyrical, and the other more meaningful on a personal level.

The first one was a shrine for Ronald McDonald, mascot of the fast food chain McDonald's. I went to the service point on Sherbrooke street close to Langelier metro station in Montreal and ordered 8 small burgers (4 with cheese), one Big Mac, 2 small fries, 6 pcx McNuggets, 4 big soda cups. I asked for many ketchups, salt and pepper sachets, kid's happy meal boxes and brown M bags. It was surprisingly not so expensive. I prepared everything on the terrasse of the shop and installed at the entrance of the drive-thru. The photos taken, I wrapped everything back, put it in the brown paper bags and offered it at a homeless man on the corner of Dickson and Hochelaga street. 

The second shrine was more pleasant to do in the cemetery Marius Poirier a bit further down Sherbrooke street. While talking out loud to my mother in front of the grave, I unwrapped all memories I borrowed from her memory chest/trunk, photos I had of her, and food she liked: yogourt and granola, chocolate bread and banana cake. Once everything has been immortalized in a photo, I ate the yogourt with granola while packing up. It was such a realisation to have a physical body to ingest food dedicated to someone who did not had one anymore. I was very aware of my biological capacities and felt very alive.


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