Crème de Co and the commodification of everything.
Updated: Mar 16, 2021
Crème de co (2013)
"A creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction
The boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion."
Haraway in 'A Cyborg Manifesto' from out takes of Crème De Co.
The video and cosmetic product Crème De Co (Crème de Corporeal) initially came out of wanting to explore the relationship between the actual female body which leaks and excretes and the idealised female body in popular culture but it also began to envelop many other experiences and theories like a snowball gathering up itself into a big icy blobby monster. It drew upon scientific breakthroughs within stem-cell technology and it allowed me to explore societal taboos in relation bodily matter, the trickiness of self-objectiﬁcation, the slipyness of desire and the commodiﬁcation of our bodily waste.
Creme de Co (2013) takes the form of a potion, a beauty product, a-how-to video, and an experiment in “slapstick” stem-cell technology. The woman in the video (me), is dressed in a peach, long, silk-dress and a cream robe with full makeup. A deliberate attempt at objectifying myself, taking characteristics from Nigella Lawson, a celebrity-chef known for her sexual culinary masterpieces. I then proceed into gloopy-ness or abjection using the nutrients found in my bodily waste to create an anti-aging cream which I then taste at the end of the video. There are moments that are erotised, sexually charged, and these are juxtaposed with acutely intimate and ‘disgusting’ instances, the viewer is thrown from one to the other and spat back out through the device of the Youtube channel.
Through the consumption of my product you can be rendered more knowing, more meaningful, more beautiful, more elegant. In our society anything can be commodified and ‘there are no moral limits to doing so, at least if one depends on capitalistic narratives.” (Sandal in LaMothe, 2015, p.29)
However, I wonder here if her (my) desire to commodify bits of herself can be a positive driving force. Not long ago it would have been unimaginable to use bodily matter and in particular female menstrual blood within a medical context. However, scientists have begun to utilise the pluripotent stem-cells found in menstrual blood. You can now send away your monthly blood to companies such as Life-cell Femme where they store you samples in gigantic freezers for later medical use.
A commodification of bodily fluid.
Whilst cosmetic brands such as Lifeline Skin Care claim that their products include patented extracts from non-embryonic human stem cells. I wonder if the stem-cells that cosmetic companies claim to use are from menstrual blood storage companies?
Could our desire for youth and regeneration result in a symbolic shift where waste bodily matter, in particular menstrual blood, shifts from the category of profane to that of regeneration and purity? Or will developments in science create more ordering of bodies and more regulation- like being able to get your kids placenta made into bite-sized tablets in order to get the nutritional benefits without the bloodied mess?
Hygiene and dirt imply two conditions: a set of ordered relations and a transgression of that order. Mulvey’s suggestion that the cosmetically finished surface of the body must conceal the “abject matter” of the interior of the female body is particularly applicable here. Within the video Creme de Co the normative female is unable to keep tabs on herself. The bodily matter escapes and traverses the body’s borders and abject matter; bile, phlegm, vomit, mucous, and menstrual blood, elicit their power through being in the “wrong” place. All transitional states therefore pose a threat; anything that resists classification or refuses to belong to one category or another emanates danger. And, once again, it is the margins, the very edges of categories, that are most critical. The dualisms of dirt and hygiene become important to use in a strategic way in order to cause their implosion (their leaking) into one another.