Bin Laden’s head on a silver platter


Not even one year ago, chief 9/11 conspirator Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by a stealthy, movie-inducing team of U.S. operatives.

Last month, artist Em Meine served his severed head  on a silver platter in San Francisco.

San Francisco-based Meine created “Mission Accomplished,” a unique piece of participatory art that her audience gleefully sliced into and consumed.

Meine baked and decorated a cake in the shape and appearance of a severed, bearded and turbaned head. She served it to attendees of a California College of the Arts’ Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art exhibition in January.

John Baldessari prompted his graduate fine art class create an object disguised as another object. Meine decided a cake disguised as the severed head of a notorious terrorist — or vice versa — would be her vehicle.

When the New Jersey-born Meine heard the news of Bin Laden’s death last May, she was living in New York City. She told Open Space:

“The public celebrations that took place at Ground Zero and in Washington, DC were confusing to me and somewhat appalling. The cake was my way of challenging people to participate in a very visceral celebration by consuming an overtly gruesome representation of bin Laden.”

Served on American flag plates with red napkins, Meine’s work juxtaposed the repulsion of cannabilism with the joy of eating a sweet, delicious cake.

Though she’s not interested in any more edible art, Meine said she looks forward to more participatory work, where an audience and their actions are needed to “activate” a piece.

Jesse Garnier
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as associate professor at San Francisco State University.

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